Spartans secure seventh straight girls’ sectional soccer crown

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ soccer coach Brian Bold knew at halftime that junior midfielder Sky

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ soccer coach Brian Bold knew at halftime that junior midfielder Skye Kaler was playing her best game of the season on Saturday.

But he needed more if the Spartans were going to win their seventh straight Class A girls’ soccer championship.

The Spartans answered, beating previously unbeaten South Glens Falls, 1-0, on a goal by Kaler, and now find themselves in regional competition once again.

“It never gets old, not at all,” said senior defender Kaita Albanese of the program’s streak of sectional championships, one for each year Bold has been head coach.

Next up for the 15-4-0 Spartans is a 7 p.m. Tuesday regional semifinal here against Section III champion Jamesville-DeWitt.

Getting there was a little difficult, though.

“At halftime, I told them that Skye was playing alone,” said Bold. “They stepped up. I thought Jillian [Beatty] raised her game in the second half. And between [Emily] Pearce and Marina [Giorgio] we got what we needed at midfield.”

Kaler was the most dynamic player on the field for the first half, challenging for and gaining possession, sending teammates forward and getting her team the lead at 15:07 when she put a Meghan Mal­one pass into the Bulldogs’ net.

“The game that Skye Kaler had today, she was the general, the captain, she was everything we needed,” praised Bold. “I would have loved to have had a GPS on her today. She was everywhere.”

So was Shively, who did her best to make it a tough 80 minutes for South High’s Sammy Blizzard, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer with 44 goals. Shively, with some help from fellow co-captain Albanese, held Blizzard to a pair of good chances, both of which were handled by goalkeeper Florie Comley.

Burnt Hills used the same defensive scheme against Scotia-Glenville in the semifinal.

“We knew Sammy Blizzard is a very good offensive player,” said Shively. “Bold said to play the same way we played on Silvana Giovannone when we played Scotia.”

“I told ‘Shives,’ ‘You’ve got No. 14.’ Kaita helped cover, but ‘Shives’ played a tremendous game. You started to see her [Blizzard] become withdrawn more as the game went on. She was going back to collect the ball. That’s what we were looking for. We had her contained.”

“We had to be really aggressive because Sammy and Erin Fish are good players,” Albanese said.

Still, it was only a 1-0 game, because the Spartans headed the ball off the post four times on corner kicks, and had a couple of other chances cleared off the goal line.

“I thought it would boost us up, but I didn’t think we’d be able to hold on that,” said Kaler of her goal. “It’s unreal. You hope that will carry us through. We had some unlucky shots, but we got the one goal.

“It gets nerve-wracking, but we were able to hold on to the lead.”

Shively and Albanese expected Kaler’s goal would open the game up.

“I thought one would be the trigger, and we’d keep getting more, but the one goal held up.” Shively said. “It was all we needed. We had so many chances, especially on corner kicks, but they had a lot of people back on the line with the goalie.”

“That’s usually what happens with us, but today, it didn’t,” Alban­ese said. “We hit a lot of posts. It was insane.”

Comley turned in two great saves on Blizzard, getting down quickly to deflect a wicked drive 12 minutes into the game, and preserving the lead when she came off her line and got enough of a shot to push it up and around the goal.

“Florie played phenomenally,” said Bold. “All you ask of your goalkeeper is to make those couple of saves each game. That starts to build her confidence.

“Florie struggled a little bit this season, but when the postseason started, I saw a different mentality. She’s bringing it.”

Categories: High School Sports

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