Miller’s goal, O’Neil’s clear lift Shenendehowa field hockey to Section II Class A crown

Shenendehowa's Molly Miller attempts to dislodge the ball from underneath Guilderland goalie Sofia Cannistraci during the Section II Class A field hockey championship game on Sunday, Oct. 31 at Schuylerville High School.
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Shenendehowa's Molly Miller attempts to dislodge the ball from underneath Guilderland goalie Sofia Cannistraci during the Section II Class A field hockey championship game on Sunday, Oct. 31 at Schuylerville High School.

SCHUYLERVILLE — It wasn’t until Kiera O’Neil knocked the ball away from the cage that the Shenendehowa field hockey team could breathe a sigh of relief.

Molly Miller scored early in the fourth quarter, and O’Neil’s clear with less then a minute to go put the capper on Shenendehowa’s 1-0 Section II Class A championship-game win over Guilderland Sunday afternoon at Schuylerville High School.

“It made us realize we are going to be sectional champions right there,” O’Neil, one of 12 seniors on the Plainsmen roster, said of her clear. “She [Shenendehowa goalie Brianna Anslow] made a save and I hit it out.”

Shenendehowa (No. 1 seed. 16-2) made its 11th straight title-game appearance Sunday, yet came out on top for the first time since clipping Saratoga Springs 1-0 in double overtime in 2016.

Shenendehowa dropped finals to Saratoga in 2017 (4-3) and 2018 (2-1), bowed to Guilderland in 2019 (2-1 double OT), and won the Suburban Council tournament title game against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (3-0) to conclude its 2020 season that had no sectionals due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We got it done. It just took a while,” said first-year Shenendehowa coach Shawn Eggleston. “Some of the nerves lasted longer than I expected.”

Shenendehowa extended its win streak to 12 games which included a 2-0 victory over Guilderland. Guilderland (No. 2, 12-7) handed the Plainsmen one of their losses 2-1 early in the campaign.

“After we lost to Guilderland we had to make some changes,” Miller said. “We changed people. We changed some of the things we do. A lot changed.”

That included the team at the top of the Class A heap.

“It’s been a long time,” said Anslow, whose only save preceded O’Neil’s clutch clear. “That’s all we talked about this week. We had to bring this title home.”

Miller scored her goal with 12:47 left in the fourth quarter on a penalty corner. After inserting the ball, Miller worked her way to the left post and directed a right-to-left pass from fellow senior Kelly Westervelt into the cage.

“She sent it right to my stick and all I had to do was knock it in,” Miller said. “She set me up perfectly.”

Miller was an active player as she tried to create offense while also derailing Guilderland’s efforts with the ball.

“That kid works,” Eggleston said of Miller. “She’s a kid who has a switch and says it’s go time.”

Miller was among the goal scorers in Shenendehowa’s 5-0 semifinal win over Shaker, and she nearly had two Sunday, when, with 7:18 left, she broke free past the Dutchmen defense and hit the right post.

Miller had scored earlier on one of Shenendehowa’s 11 penalty corners, while Guilderland was awarded four of them. Shenendehowa was denied on five of those corner opportunities that came in succession at one segment of the third quarter, managing just one quality shot during that stretch..

“Knowing their defense is tough, when we couldn’t get shots off we wanted to earn the corner,” Eggleston said. “Shout out to Guilderand’s defense.”

Guilderland’s Sofia Cannistraci finished with seven saves including back-to-back kick saves in a first-quarter flurry of action.

Sunday’s Class A title game was the 13th in a row that was decided by one goal.

Shenendehowa will travel to Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Sunday for a regional game against Section III champ Baldwinsville. Baldwinsville improved to 18-0 with a 3-0 win over Cicero-North Syracuse in the Section III final.

“We’re on a roll,” Eggleston said. “We hope to keep it going.”

Guilderland 0 0 0 0 — 0

Shenendehowa 0 0 0 1 — 1

Guilderland scoring: None. Shenendehowa scoring: Milier 1-0, Westervelt 0-1. Goalies: Guilderland, Cannistraci, 7 saves. Shenendehowa, Anslow, 1 saves.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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