Two familiar partners will meet again for the Section II Class AA girls’ soccer championship.
Shenendehowa used three Kristen Connors goals to beat Shaker, 3-0, Friday in one semifinal at Schuylerville High School, and Bethlehem knocked off top-seeded Saratoga Springs, 2-0, in the second.
The Plainsmen and Eagles will meet Wednesday to decide the champion, the third consecutive year the Suburban Council rivals have met in the Class AA final.
“Before the game, I said, ‘Shen’s done their half. Now we have to complete the dance partnership,’ .” said Bethlehem coach Tom Rogan, whose team has won three consecutive Section II titles.
And for the third straight year, one team that would like to have cut in on the dance was jilted. Saratoga suffered a third consecutive loss at this stage of the sectionals, done in by a defensive mistake and a well-placed shot under the crossbar by Bethlehem’s Allie Olsen.
“I absolutely didn’t expect that,” said Saratoga coach Adrienne Dannehy of a 2-0 deficit before the game was 16 minutes old .“The first goal [by junior Tara Teal] was a mistake on the back line. I’ve never seen that happen before. The second goal, 99.9 percent of the time Liz [goalkeeper Liz Rogan] makes that punching save.
“I don’t think that moved us in any way. It was an obstacle we had to climb over. We had lots and lots and lots of opportunities. They capitalized on the few opportunities they had. That’s the way things go.”
Bethlehem goalie Katie Nickles was solid, coming off her line when it was necessary, and never giving up a rebound in making 18 saves.
“Katie Nickles was tremendous, and she’s been tremendous all year,” said Rogan, whose team became the first to score more than one goal in a game this year against the Blue Streaks, who finished 13-3-2.
“She’s played under more pressure than she’s seen the last two years. She’s an absolute rock back there”
“I didn’t think we’d go up two goals like that, but we’ve had two good offensive games the last two games,” said Nickles, who held Saratoga scoreless in a 0-0 tie in the Suburban Council season.
Rogan went for a defensive posture after getting the two-goal lead, moving Teal deeper into the midfield and dropping as many as seven players into the defensive third.
“In the Niskayuna [quarterfinal] game, we were up and I didn’t drop her back, and we gave up two goals,” he said. “I told the girls after the game that they bailed me out, because I thought I made a mistake.
“I told them I wouldn’t make that mistake again. When we got up by two, we dropped her back again. I think we’re considerably more stable with her back there.”
Connors made sure No. 2 seed Shenendehowa would get another shot at a title, scoring 5:15 into the game, drilling home a rebound later in the half, and cashing in a one-on-one chance with Blue Bison goalkeeper Anne Morrison in the second half to put her 13-4-1 team up by three goals against a team they had beaten, 2-0 and 3-0, during the regular season.
“We always want to score two in 10 [minutes],” said Connors. “Getting the first goal early changes the whole game.”
Senior captains Emily DePoy and Madeleine Rattray anchored a defense that gave Shaker few good chances, even when the Bison played with a stiff breeze in the second half.
“You can’t let other factors determine your game,” said DePoy, who assisted on two goals. “You have to play the best you can with the situation you’re given.”
Connors’ effort meant her team would not have to repeat the stress of a quarterfinal win over Ballston Spa that was decided by penalty kicks.
“We were pumped, because we did not want that to happen again,” she said. “We just stepped it up.”
Shenendehowa coach Holli Mulholland was also pleased with the early goals.
“Part of our emphasis was to get on the board early and try to score often,” she said. “I thought we did a nice job in the first 10 minutes, which is always our goal, to set the tone.
“It’s tough to beat a team three times in one year. I’m glad we came out and played our style of play”
FALCONS IN FINAL
Northville advanced to its fourth consecutive Class D final with a 2-0 semifinal win over Loudonville Christian School in a game played at Broadalbin-Perth.
The top-seeded Falcons won the last three “D” titles, and will take a 13-4-1 record into Tuesday’s 3 p.m. championship game at Stillwater.
Sharon Springs also advanced as Jordan Collins and Kaena Davenport both had a goal and assist in a 2-1 semifinal win over Fort Ann.
Emily Hoffman had to make only four saves for the seventh-seeded Spartans, who are 5-11-2. Sharon Springs has not won a girls’ sectional soccer championship since taking consecutive Class D championships in 1986 and 1987.
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Categories: High School Sports