Girls’ soccer: BH-BL, Schalmont captains play key roles

Although their roles have changed, the play of captains Kaita Albanese and Nicole Shively of Burnt H

Although their roles have changed, their play has helped their respective teams get to this weekend’s girls’ state soccer semifinals.

Kaita Albanese and Nicole Shively have grown into their roles as captains, leading Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake to the program’s sixth final four in the seven years Brian Bold has been head coach.

Taylor Florio has adjusted, as well, going from a school that struggled to field a team to a starting spot for Schalmont, which will join the Spartans and three other Section II teams playing this weekend in the Cortland area.

Albanese and Shively were starters on last year’s Burnt Hills team that reached the state semis, playing on a defense led by first-team all-state player Sarah Glowa.

“Last year, we looked up to Glowa and ‘Bri’ [Brianne Hadcock] as the leaders,” said Shively. “We always thought that they were going to carry us and push the team.”

This year, Albanese and Shively have had to help outside backs Chloe Hay and Michaela Hitt adjust to their starting roles.

“Throughout the season, it’s become more clear that people on the team are looking at us like that,” said Albanese, the team’s central defender. “Before the season, I didn’t feel like that at all, because I didn’t see myself like that.”

Burnt Hills takes a 17-4-0 record into its Class A semifinal today at 1:30 p.m. at Tompkins-Cortland Community College against Somers (Section I).

The Tuskers beat Cornwall, 2-1, to advance to the state semis.

Burnt Hills scored seven goals and gave up just one in winning its two regional games. Freshman Meghan Malone had a goal in both games, and 10th-grader Morgan Burchhardt scored in the regional final against Malone. Sen­ior Jess Lyden also got a goal against Malone, as all three starting forwards found the net.

“This is what we’ve been working for. We’ve made changes in the lineup, and right now, we’re at our best, with Morgan and Meghan up top with Jess,” said Shively.

With Albanese in charge, the defense has posted three shutouts and given up just two goals in five postseason games.

“They’ve gotten more confident,” Albanese said, referring to Hay and Hitt, the latter a 10th-grader. “Playing always builds confidence, and we’re pretty good at communicating back there.”

Florio finds herself on an unbeaten Schalmont team heading into a 5 p.m. semifinal against

defending Class B champ Bronxville (Section I), a long way from being on an undermanned Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons team.

“It’s awesome to be on a team that’s accomplished this much,” said the senior, who is the team’s sweeper. “It’s a great feeling, espec­ially coming from a school where we didn’t have a lot of people.”

Making the transition easier was her familiarity with the members of the Sabres’ team.

“I played with most of them for a long time through travel and rec soccer,” she said.”

The 21-0-0 Sabres steamrolled through the Colonial Council season, their high-powered offense overshadowing a good defense. In two regional games, though, Schalmont has had to score late to extend its season.

Diana DiCocco’s two goals in overtime beat Section III’s Lowville, and the 100th varsity goal of senior Megan Strijek’s career got the Sabres past Beekmantown in the state quarterfinals

“I hope we can score in the first half,” Strijek said. “It gets to be frustrating after a while, because we work so hard, and it’s like, ‘Can we just score and get it over with?’ ”

“We’re definitely more of a second-half team,” said midfielder Alexandria Cardinal. “I think in the first half, we get all jittery and nervous. Once halftime comes and we have a talk, it goes away.”

An early goal — or two — would also ease the mind of coach Angelo Caschera.

“We have to score early so we don’t get nervous. If we do that, we’ll be OK,” said Caschera, who started six seniors against Beekmantown. “There are eight seniors on the team, and for them, this is it.”

A win would put the Sabres into Sunday’s state final for the first time in school history.

“Physically, we’re ready. Mentally, having to play two games in two days, it will be tough, but it will be the same for the other team, too,” Caschera said. “The main thing is to win [today], then worry about Sunday’s game.”

“We’ve got to go out [today] and play our game. If we do that, we’ll come out of it OK.”

Bethlehem (Class AA), Northville (Class D) and Hoosick Falls (Class C) are also in the state semis, as Section II qualified a team for the final four in all five enrollment classifications for the first time.

Bethlehem (15-3-2) gets Section I’s Arlington, as the Eagles are in the final four for the first time, having come up short after winning sectional titles the last three years. That semi is set for 1:30 at Homer High School.

Likewise for Northville (15-4-1), another four-time running Section II champ which drew perennial small-school power Ellicottville from Section VI in its 10:30 a.m. semi at Homer High School.

Hoosick Falls (19-1-1), a state champion in 2005, faces Tully of Section III in its 9 a.m. semi at Tompkins-Cortland CC.

Categories: High School Sports

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