MECHANICVILLE — They secured them in much different types of games, but both Averill Park and Queensbury earned one-goal victories Monday to advance to Friday’s Section II Class A girls’ soccer championship game at Stillwater High School.
In Monday’s semifinals at Mechanicville High School, Queensbury defeated Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 4-3 following Averill Park topping Mohonasen 1-0 in the first game of the doubleheader. Those victories set up a championship matchup of the tournament’s top seeds.
While Averill Park needed to hold onto a one-goal lead for all of its second half, Queensbury appeared ready to cruise into Friday’s championship. Queensbury led its game 3-0 at halftime and had a 4-1 lead with just minutes to go in regulation.
“This team is very gritty,” Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake head coach Marisah Boucher said of her club. “We work really hard, and that’s something that we carry over from practice to our games.”
Sam Torres scored in the 75th minute to bring Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake within 4-2, and the sophomore wasn’t done. Two minutes later, Torres scored again, but Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake couldn’t offer up a game-tying goal after that.
“We were focused on winning and we just tried our best not to get any more goals scored on us,” Queensbury junior Ava Stewart said of the game’s final few minutes. “It was very stressful, but we did it.”
Stewart assisted the first goal of the night for Queensbury (No. 1, 15-1-2), which sophomore Bayley Duffy scored in the 15th minute. Stewart scored in the 24th minute, then senior Brigid Duffy connected on a penalty kick in the 26th minute to send Queensbury into halftime with a 3-0 lead.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (No. 5, 7-9-1) junior Ella Blesi connected on a penalty kick in the 53rd minute, but Stewart answered with her second goal of the night in the 60th minute. From there, the teams were scoreless until Torres scored twice in a quick stretch as Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake refused to quit.
“It’s just a great, hard-working group of girls — and young, very young,” Boucher said of her team, which she said received strong leadership from its six seniors throughout the season.
AVERILL PARK ADVANCES
In a rematch of the last Section II Class A girls’ soccer championship game, Averill Park reversed the result with its 1-0 win against Mohonasen.
Averill Park (No. 2, 10-4-4) received a first-half goal from sophomore Gabby Geise, and Mohonasen (No. 3, 13-3-1) could not pull off another postseason comeback.
“It was an awesome effort,” Mohonasen head coach Clint DeMyer said. “These girls have no quit in them, and that was awesome to see.”
In last Friday’s playoff win against South Glens Falls, Mohonasen trailed 2-0 and eventually headed to overtime on its way to registering a 4-3 win on Sarah Leclerc’s game-winning goal.
Averill Park, though, didn’t allow Mohonasen many quality offensive chances Monday after it moved ahead 1-0.
“We knew we had to finish the job,” Geise said of Averill Park’s focus.
Senior Meredith Gaylord delivered the ball in the 12th minute to Geise, who said head coach Nate Luskin had prepared her for the moment.
“His No. 1 rule for me is, ‘Shoot, shoot, shoot,’ ” Geise said. “So I took what I could; I used my left foot [to shoot] for the first time in probably my entire life and, amazingly, it went in.”
While Averill Park will play Friday, Mohonasen will start to look toward next season. The Mighty Warriors’ roster only included two seniors — Courtney Bush and Matti Swan — during the 2021 fall season.
“This group of kids I had the pleasure of coaching this year, they were different than what we’ve had,” said DeMyer, who has coached five seasons at Mohonasen. “We’ve usually had a lot of players with upperclassmen experience, and this year we only had two seniors and they really led us.”
There were no Section II girls’ soccer championships during the 2020-21 academic year because of restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Mohonasen had won the 2019 Section II Class A championship with a 1-0 win against Averill Park.
QUEENSBURY 4, BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE 3
Halftime score: Queensbury led 3-0. BH-BL scoring: Blesi 1-2, Torres 2-0. Queensbury scoring: Stewart 2-1, Ba. Duffy 1-0, Br. Duffy 1-0. Goalies: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, A. Cataldo, 7 saves. Queensbury, Lemery, 18 saves.
AVERILL PARK 1, MOHONASEN 0
Halftime score: Averill Park led 1-0. Mohonasen scoring: None. Averill Park scoring: G. Geise 1-0, Gaylord 0-1. Goalies: Mohonasen, Gulbrandsen, 8 saves. Averill Park, Lombardi, 4 saves.