After seeing numerous chances for herself and her Schalmont teammates go unrewarded through 80 minutes of regulation play Tuesday, Diana DiCocco was determined to change things.
After lobbing a shot just wide in the opening minute of ovetime, the 11th-grader made her next two chances pay off, giving the unbeaten Sabres a 2-0 win over Section III champion Lowville in a Class B regional semifinal. The 20-0-0 Sabres advanced to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2006, and will play Section VII champion Beekmantown back here on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., with a state semifinal berth on the line.
“When I get frustrated, it just pumps me up even more,” said DiCocco, who scored her 24th and 25th goals of the season three minutes apart in the first 10-minute overtime. “I think it was to the point where I just needed to score a goal.”
“We were getting chances, and it was a little frustrating,” said senior Hannah Saccocio. “When Diana got that first goal, we relaxed a little. We made better passes and concentrated on playing good defense the rest of the way.
“None of us has gotten this far in a season. It’s a great feeling. I don’t have any words for it.”
The Sabres had the better of play for 80 minutes, but despite several good opportunities, could not crack the Rams’ defense.
“Yeah, it was a little frustrating because we could have had a couple of goals,” said senior forward Megan Strijek. “But at the same time, you know you can do it. You just do what you have to do to get to the next level. This was an important game for us. I’m proud of us.”
In the first half, Schalmont cracked a shot off the post, and two Strijek chances came to nothing. With four minutes to go, the senior shot just wide after gaining possession of a long pass from defender Katie Saccocio that bounced away from Rams’ goalkeeper Chelsea Finn. Moments later, Finn turned away a Strijek shot.
“I thought that one was going in,” said Strijek of the first chance, which left her stuck on 99 career goals.
“Their goalkeeper was very good, and their defense held up well,” said DiCocco. “I think we just had to keep following up.”
Schalmont had an 11-2 edge in shots at halftime, 16-5 after 80 minutes.
While their offense has gotten a lot of attention, the Sabres recorded their 14th shutout of the season.
Katie Saccocio, a midfielder in last Saturday’s Section II championship game, moved to the back four, joining her cousin, Hannah, Taylor Florio and Isabella Borini.
“She’s good back there, because she’s got a midfielder’s skills, and she can play the long ball quickly up to our forwards,” said Hanna Saccocio.
“I’ve played in back before, but I wasn’t sure if I would be back there tonight,” Katie Saccocio said. “I had a feeling we’d score, I just didn’t think it would take that long because we were getting so many chances.”
The Sabres, the only remaining unbeaten team in Section II, face a Beekmantown team that beat Section X’s Salmon River, 4-0, in Tuesday’s other regional semi.
“This is special,” said Katie Saccocio. “We’ve got eight seniors who have worked hard for a long time to be able to get this far. We don’t want the season to end.”
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports