CLIFTON PARK – It had been months between shots against Shenendehowa goalkeeper Noah Flint, but the junior keeper was perfect Saturday afternoon in earning his first shutout of the season, a 2-0 win against Columbia.
That contest served as the boys’ soccer season opener for the Plainsmen (1-0), who were delayed a week after a number of the team’s players needed to miss practices following a coronavirus exposure at a club practice. That unusual preseason followed an offseason during which school teams weren’t able to utilize their normal training because of restrictions related to the pandemic.
“We were unable to train for most of the summer, which is not good,” Flint said. “Normally, we’ll have summer training with some of the guys, but we were all kind of thrown into tryouts.”
Flint needed more than just a lone soccer ball to keep his skills sharp during the layoff.
“Goalkeeper training is a little bit different than field player training,” said Flint, who enlisted the help of Colonie girls’ soccer coach and NY Elite FC goalie coach Ryan Edson. “He trained with me throughout the summer, keeping me sharp, on my toes, so I would be ready for the swing of things when school ball started.”
A former Section II standout, Edson was in goal during the Shenendehowa boys’ soccer program’s run to a state championship in 2005
“I was extremely fortunate that he was able to train me throughout the summer,” Flint said. “I do hope and think that it gave me a leg up.”
Flint, like others, also lost a chance to demonstrate his talents due to traveling restrictions throughout the summer eliminating tournaments and college showcases.
“Due to the circumstances, we did what we could, unfortunately not much college recruiting happened this summer,” he said. “I am thankful that I’m only a junior and that I still have my senior year. Hopefully, we’ll be back to normal by then.”
In Saturday’s opener, Flint had to adjust quickly, facing his first league opponents.
“As soon as we see a player who has a tactical advantage on of our defenders, we’ll rearrange how we’re playing and make sure that they aren’t able to score,” Flint said.
The junior goalie turned back all 10 shots he faced, plus was helped along with a late save from a teammate after Flint ran out to challenge an opponent to cut down on a shooting angle.
“I can always count on my defense to be there for me,” Flint said. “We’re all encouraging one another, all helping each other out. If one person makes a mistake, there is always somebody there to help them.”
With a shortened season and the elimination of area and state playoffs, Flint said he’s looking forward to the anticipated Suburban Council year-end tournament.
“For our team, we’re going to treat it just like sectionals,” Flint said. “It’s going to be as important as it has been the last few years. We’re going to go in with 150% effort.”
Shenendehowa hosts Colonie 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.