Sabres headed to semifinals

It took the Schalmont girls’ soccer team a little while to break through, but once they did, they we
Schalmont's Hailee Metzold holds off Mechanicville's Keara LaFountain in the Sectionals game on Monday
Schalmont's Hailee Metzold holds off Mechanicville's Keara LaFountain in the Sectionals game on Monday

It took the Schalmont girls’ soccer team a little while to break through, but once they did, they were rolling.

The top-seeded Sabres struck twice in the last five minutes of the second half, then found a little more space to operate in the second half of a 5-0 Section II Class B quarterfinal win Monday night over No. 8 Mechanicville.

“I find that we always have to find a rhythm, and we do later in the half,” said Schalmont sophomore Alexis Horwedel, who had two goals and an assist. “Once we figure out a team’s style, we tend to play better against them. I feel like once we picked up the intensity more, as the half went on, we did a lot better finding our open players and distributing it into the middle to find good shots.”

The Sabres (18-0-0) will play No. 5 Voorheesville, a 3-1 winner over No. 4 Coxsackie-Athens, in a semifinal Wednesday night at 7 at Lansingburgh.

The Red Raiders (12-6-0) packed the defensive third, and every one of them was ready to step to the ball and pressure any Schalmont player who came near. It worked for a while, relegating the Sabres to less-dangerous shots most of the first half.

Then Horwedel sent a ball into the 18-yard box in the 35th minute. Mechanicville goalie Lauren Claeys had a line on it, but the ball was deflected by one of the Red Raiders and ended up on the foot of Schalmont’s Hailee Metzold at the right post for a 1-0 lead.

In the 40th minute, a free kick into the box found Julia Rossi, who dished it off for the first of her two assists on the night, finding Sydnee Metzold a few short yards to her right.

Horwedel scored in the 46th and 53rd minutes, her second goal coming on a blast from about 35 yards out.

“I heard someone say, ‘Just shoot!’ ” Horwedel said. “I got the perfect touch, and I just shot it. It was a pretty nice rip, I guess.

“Just the night-game feel, the feeling that you could get knocked out at any point, makes all the difference. It makes you play so much harder.”

The Red Raiders had a couple of breakout opportunities in the first 20 minutes, but got caught offsides both times. In the next 20, they got a girl out cleanly, but a Schalmont defender was never far from the ball and Sabres’ goalie Alexis Ryder was up to the task on the two sharp shots she faced in the first half.

“In the first half, we had some breakaways; late in the first half, we had one and the goalkeeper made another great save,” Mechanicville coach Karl Gerstenberger said. “If we’re able to capitalize on those, maybe it’s a different game. But to try to stop them for 80 minutes, it’s just impossible. We just kept with the game plan — pressure the ball and try to beat them on the run. Between their back three and their keeper, they did a phenomenal job of keeping us from getting a quality shot on goal.”

Ryder finished with seven saves, and Claeys had 16.

Schalmont coach Alaina Resue said the key for the Sabres in the first half was getting the ball out to the outside halfbacks. After pushing their forwards up into the crowded spaces in the box and dropping the ball to the center-mids, they could feed the outside halfbacks to force those defensive-minded Red Raiders to cover more ground and open up some space.

After getting a couple of goals and forcing Mechanicville to be a little more aggressive to the ball, the Sabres found a bit more space in the second half.

“It definitely opened up for them,” Resue said. “The girls took full advantage of it, attacking the open spaces and looking for the passing lanes that were opening up that whole half for them. Mechanicville had to open it up, they had to get numbers forward. Fortunately, for us, it opens up opportunities for us, offensively.”

Bianca Mascitelli rounded out the scoring for the Sabres with a strike from about 25 yards out in the 62nd minute. Rachel Pratt also had an assist for Schalmont.

The Sabres have today to prepare for Voorheesville, a team they beat twice in the regular season, but the second time by a 2-0 score that did not please Resue. She will remind the girls of that game, and she will continue to remind them of their 2-0 regional loss last year to Marcellus.

“We reflect back on the Marcellus game and how difficult that was,” Resue said. “They’re expecting a game like that every time they step on the pitch now. It’s really helping them work together and be a physical and dominant force as soon as the whistle blows.”

Categories: High School Sports

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