The Shenendehowa boys’ soccer team directed its aim at Suburban Council championships earlier this fall season after Section II and state-level competitions were called off out of COVID-19 concerns.
With a regular season crown already secured, the Plainsmen can complete phase two of their objective Saturday with a win over CBA in the league tournament’s title game.
“We have treated it like a section tournament,” Shenendehowa senior midfielder Darien Espinal said after scoring the goal in Thursday’s 1-0 semifinal win over Saratoga Springs. “Obviously with the ongoing circumstances, we’re trying to make the best of it. Every game is a big game. We have been playing great and we’ve got one to go.”
Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. game at Shenendehowa matches the Section II Class AA champions from 2019 and 2018. The Plainsmen followed up their 2019 area success with a regional title.
“We all grew up playing soccer together, so this is pretty important to us,” Shenendehowa senior defender Brandon Barrett said. “It may not have the glory of going to states like last year, but we’re trying to make the most of it.”
CBA (No. 2 seed, 12-2-0) beat Niskayuna 4-2 in its semifinal Thursday to earn a spot alongside Shenendehowa (12-0-2).
“Saratoga is a great team,” Barrett said. “They wanted it. We had to match that.”
“I told them it’s not quite a sectional, but to go to back-to-back finals is quite an accomplishment,” Shenendehowa coach Jon Bain said after Thursday’s win.
That win showcased a Shenendehowa defense that recorded its eighth shutout. One of them came earlier this season in a 2-0 win over CBA when Noah Flint made eight saves.
“CBA is a big rivalry,” Barrett said. “That is the biggest team we want to beat.”
Shenendehowa defeated CBA 2-1 in the last playoff game between the teams in the 2017 Section II large-school final. Shenendehowa sports a No. 24 national ranking on the United Soccer Coaches poll.
The Shenendehowa girls (No. 1, 12-0-1) will host Shaker (No. 2, 12-0-1) in Saturday’s first championship soccer game at 11 a.m. The teams played to a 0-0 tie during the regular season when no overtime sessions were held. The tournament includes overtime play.
Also Saturday, the Suburban Council will conduct its girls’ swimming championships at Shenendehowa and Niskayuna high schools, and its boys’ cross country championship meet at Saratoga Spa State Park. The Suburban Council girls’ cross country championship meet is Sunday at Saratoga Spa State Park.