BURNT HILLS — With the Suburban Council tournament’s top seed up for grabs and his team down by a goal at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake on Saturday, Shenendehowa boys’ soccer coach Jon Bain made some moves, one of them involving versatile senior Brandon Barrett.
“We changed our formation a little bit to make us a little more offensive-minded,” Bain said after his Plainsmen rallied for a 3-1 win. “We needed to put more pressure on them offensively.”
Barrett was among those who did.
After playing center back in the first half, Barrett was moved to striker for the second and set up the tying goal before notching what would be the game-winner in a clutch victory for the Plainsmen and a costly defeat for the Spartans.
“We got down and changed strategy,” Barrett said. “We knew if we got a win we would be the top seed, so we were working for that.”
Shenendehowa completed its regular season at 10-0-2 and with 32 points, and edged out CBA (10-2-0, 30 points) for the No. 1 seed in the tournament that will conduct games Tuesday, Thursday and next Saturday. CBA lost to Guilderland 3-2 on Friday to conclude its regular season.
“I think we’re ready,” said Bain, who guided Shenendehowa to the state Class AA final four last year. “We’ve got a lot of leadership. Lots of returning guys. We’re ready to go and get after it.”
Shenendehowa got busy in the second half against Burnt Hills after the Spartans had taken a 1-0 lead on Park Scott’s successful penalty kick with 2:15 left in the first frame.
Scott made his penalty kick after Shenendehowa was called for a hand ball.
“We knew if we got up they’d put a lot of pressure on us,” Burnt Hills coach Adam Cohen said after his team was denied a spot in the league tournament. “We didn’t adjust fast enough.”
Darien Espinal scored the first of his two goals for Shenendehowa on a header with 36:44 left after Barrett sent a right-to-left cross from the corner of the field.
Barrett scored his goal with 32:04 to go on a rebound tap-in after Mark Makhatadze’s initial drive was turned back by Bunt Hills netminder Ryan Clute.
“I’m looking for every opportunity to score,” said Barrett, who had been moved to striker in two earlier games but did not get a goal. “I saw the shot and saw the ball bounce away, and I knocked it in.”
“Brandon essentially put the team on his shoulders in the second half,” Bain said. “He was big for us. He made a difference. The guys rallied around him.”
Espinal gave Shenendehowa a 3-1 lead with 27:20 left on an assist from the team’s only freshman, Ben Tymeson.
“I got after him at halftime,” Bain said of Espinal, a senior midfielder. “I told him, ‘I need a little more from you.'”
Shenendehowa’s best chances in the first half ended with a diving save by Clute and a drive off the crossbar.
“We wanted to play faster up top,” Barrett said of the second half. “Move the ball better. Play better. Finish our opportunities.”
The loss by Burnt Hills (4-5-3, 15 points) coupled with a 1-0 Colonie (5-5-2, 17 points) win over Troy kept the Spartans out of the league tournament and put the Garnet Raiders in as the No. 8 seed.
Halftime: Burnt Hills led 1-0. Shenendehowa scoring: Espinal 2-0, Barrett 1-1, Makhatadze 0-1, Tymeson 0-1. Burnt Hills scoring: Scott 1-0. Goalkeepers: Shenendehowa, Flint, 3 saves. Burnt Hills, Clute, 7 saves.