GLENS FALLS — Sunday’s Section II Class A field hockey final included another appearance by Shenendehowa and was decided by a single goal once again, but it wasn’t all about tradition.
Guilderland played in its first large-school championship game, and when Sophia Sericolo found the cage with a drive early in the second overtime, Guilderland was a first-time winner.
“I didn’t think we’d be at this point at this stage in our program,” third-year Guilderland coach Jen Sykes said after her team’s 2-1 win at Glens Falls High School. “But we’re here.”
Sericolo scored both goals for resurgent Guilderland (No. 3 seed, 11-7) which prevailed for the ninth straight game, and beat Shenendehowa (No. 1, 14-4) for the second time in three meetings this season.
“The biggest change for us was moving some personnel around and changing our formation,” said Sykes, who coached lower-level field hockey at Shenendehowa in the past. “Moving Ava Thomson to left mid [from center forward] was particularly key for us. She stops the right side attack, and that’s where a lot of teams like to go.”
Guilderland effectively contained Shenendehowa until there was 16:24 left in the second half, when Julie Kuzmich connected to tie the game at 1. Shenendehowa was held scoreless from there in what was its 10th consecutive title-game appearance, but third straight setback after a stretch of three wins in four years.
“You need to play as a team, and you need to pass the ball,” Shenendehowa coach Jeanne Frevola said. “It’s our youth. At times, we had six 10th-graders out there. We’ll get back to work and try to make another run at it.”
Guilderland had been trying to get to the big game since its varsity inception in 2002. Wins over Niskayuna (1-0) and Bethlehem (2-1 in OT) accomplished that for the first time, and Sericolo’s second goal Sunday put the Dutch over the hump.
“It’s better than I thought it would be,” Sericolo said, when the junior was asked how it felt to be a sectional champion. “It’s better. I’m so pumped.”
Sericolo scored the game-winner with 8:36 left in the second 10-minute 7-on-7 overtime. The junior handled a penalty corner insert pass from Chelsea King near the top of the circle, juked out a defender, and her drive from about 10 yards away tipped off a Shenendehowa stick and into the cage.
Guilderland had come up empty three times on penalty corners in the first overtime.
“During the break, we designed what we thought we could be effective with [on corners],” Sykes said. “We had to come up with something.”
Sericolo did something else, and with her second tally, a 12th straight Class A final had been decided by one goal.
“We had a designed play, but the ball got behind me a bit and I had to improvise,” Sericolo said.
Sericolo scored her first goal with 8:11 left in the first half off an assist from Caitlin Mooney.
“I am so incredibly proud,” Sykes said. “In the beginning of the year, we were outshooting teams but not winning, then things started to click for us.”
“That comes with hard work,” Sericolo said.
Guilderland and Section III’s Baldwinsville will meet in a sub-regional game Wednesday at Gloversville High School at 2 p.m.