STILLWATER — Teya Staie waited a long time for her senior girls’ soccer season, and the Stillwater striker found the perfect way to get things started.
With her team locked in a scoreless game late in the first half Tuesday against Waterford-Halfmoon as both teams kicked off the “Fall II” Wasaren League girls’ soccer season, Staie made a perfect run to redirect Kaylie Peacock’s free kick past goalie Sierra Atwood with 6:07 left in the first half, providing the game’s only goal in Stillwater’s 1-0 victory at Warrior Park.
“You always want to get the first goal of your senior year, and the last,” Staie said. “I’m glad I got to get that.”
Staie is a two-time Class C all-state selection — first team in 2018, third team in 2019 — and a key holdover on a Stillwater team that has lost generational talent to graduation since the team last took the field in November 2019.
Stillwater is coming off back-to-back undefeated, Class C state championship seasons, and hasn’t lost since the 2017 Class C state final against Allegany-Limestone.
However, there have been significant departures since the team’s 2019 state championship victory over Unatego. Two-time Class C state player of the year Brooke Pickett and her 208 career goals graduated last June and is now playing at UAlbany, while two-time first-team all-state performer Keelyn Peacock opted to graduate early, allowing her to enroll and begin her collegiate soccer career at Arkansas State, even though it meant the end of her high school career when the Wasaren League pushed all of its fall sports to the Fall II period.
“We lost a lot of key girls from last year, a lot of girls that played an important part,” Stillwater coach Christine Ihnatolya said. “But, we also have a lot of girls that have really stepped up and filled into different roles. Right now, we’re trying to find the right mold. The important thing is, they’re all working hard and working together.”
With the New York State Public High School Athletic Association not sponsoring state championship competition during this academic year, there’s no state championship three-peat for Stillwater to aim for during this shuffled-around season.
That’s of no concern to Ihnatolya and her players.
“That thought is kind of in the past now,” Ihnatolya said. “We’ve kind of put that behind us and moved on. We’re really just trying to make it a special season for everybody, because we’re happy just to get out here and be together again.”
“We’re just excited to be able to play,” Staie said. “We take no team for granted. We’re just happy to be able to be together. It’s my last year, I’ve been playing with these girls forever.”
Despite leaving a few scoring chances on the table, Waterford-Halfmoon coach Meghan Reynolds left Tuesday’s game largely satisfied with her team’s effort and eager for another potential meeting with Stillwater down the road in this abbreviated season.
“I definitely would love to face them again,” Reynolds said. “I can’t wait.”
Staie’s goal provided a spark in a game that was largely contested in the midfield.
Both teams had a handful of chances, but the best opportunities were largely put either high or wide — with the exception of a diving save by Waterford-Halfmoon’s Atwood to keep it a 1-0 game in the second half.
“One of the things we talked about is being able to capitalize on every opportunity,” Ihnatolya said, “because you never know when it’s your only good look.”
Halftime score: Stillwater led 1-0. Waterford-Halfmoon scoring: None. Stillwater scoring: Staie 1-0, Peacock 0-1. Goalies: Waterford-Halfmoon, Atwood, 2 saves. Stillwater, Conroy, 4 saves.