BURNT HILLS — That early-season objective of getting to the Section II Class C title game was achieved by the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ lacrosse team Tuesday when it defeated Glens Falls 17-7 at Centennial Field.
Winning the semifinal contest was only part of the reason third-year Spartans coach Katie Kerner gave her cast a thumbs up.
“Being in Class C, you can be comfortable and get away with sloppy play,” said Kerner, whose team competed against Class A and Class B competition throughout the regular season. “We didn’t want that today. We’re trying not to.”
Top-seeded Burnt Hills (14-3) was sharp in a lot of departments in earning its fifth straight championship-game berth, but while pleased, Kerner and her charges are still striving for that next level in anticipation of a state tournament run after Thursday’s matchup with second-seeded Albany Academy at CBA.
“We’re still climbing,” Kerner said. “We want to keep climbing.”
The climb began after a season-starting 11-6 loss to Bethlehem, a team it lost to again last week but by a 10-9 score. Against rival Shenendehowa, Burnt Hills eked out an 8-7 win early on and prevailed 14-3 in the rematch also last week.
“The Shen game really showed it, going from a one-goal game to 14-3,” Kerner said of her team’s growth. “They came out fired up and finished the game that way. They didn’t want three goals to be enough.”
Getting more players involved in the scoring is part of the Spartans’ improvement since the season’s outset when, “It was really bad,” said sophomore attack Caroline Kogut, one of the team’s newcomers. “We didn’t know each other. We spent a lot of time on the field and off.”
Kerner shuffled her lineup as the season progressed in search of the right mix.
”She moved a lot of people around and we found what works,” Burnt Hills junior midfielder Ella Blesi said.
Kogut was among the standouts Tuesday with five goals, four of them coming in the first half when Burnt Hills built a 12-2 advantage.
“Since the Bethlehem game, she has improved so much. It’s incredible,” Kerner said of Kogut, who was a member of the school’s state title-winning field hockey team last fall. “She is probably one of the most coachable kids I’ve had, and she wants to get better. Her role when we started was as more of a passer.”
Kogut was among nine players who scored at least one goal Tuesday, with Chloe Kniskern and JV call-up Alyssa North both notching their first at the varsity level. Johns Hopkins commit MK Lescault collected three goals — boosting her season total to 98 — and four assists for the Spartans.
“We were all super excited for the game,” Kogut said. “This is our time to shine. I thought we played amazing today.”
“In the beginning of the season, we weren’t running our set plays like we are now,” Lescault said. “We’re running them well.”
Burnt Hills led 6-0 and 9-1 in the first half and 15-2 in the second stanza in beating fifth-seeded Glens Falls (9-9).
“Every game we want to continue to get better,” Kerner said. “I told the girls today to focus on playing your best lacrosse rather than the opponent.”
Burnt Hills wants an even better performance against Albany Academy in Thursday’s 5 p.m. game.
“Keep up the energy. Stay positive,” Lescault, a junior midfielder, said of the upcoming matchup with the Bears. “Work together and pay attention to our plays.”
Burnt Hills lost to Queensbury in the 2021 Section II Class B title game 17-11, and had won three straight Class C championships before that from 2017-19, all against Averill Park. Blesi and Lescault are among a handful of players who were on that 2019 edition.
“We’ve been telling the girls it’s something you’ll remember,” Blesi said.
Kogut began Burnt Hills’ push to get there when she handled a feed from Blesi and scored 1:58 into the contest. Emily Winslow scored next and Lescault delivered her first two goals before the game was five minutes old.
“We knew it was going to be hard,” said Glens Falls coach Elyse Hagy. “What we wanted our girls to do was play the whole game, keep our head up and make them earn it.”
Ava Pirozzolo scored four goals for Glens Falls. The junior had the game-winning goal in double overtime when Glens Falls edged fourth-seeded Holy Names 13-12 in the quarterfinals.
“This is the first time in years we’ve made it to the semifinals,” Hagy said. “We beat the No. 4 seed to get here. That was big.”
Halftime: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake led 12-2. Glens Falls scoring: Pirozzolo 4-0, Avery 2-0, Eggleston 1-0. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Ma. Lescault 2-0, Kogut 5-0, Winslow 2-1, Blesi 1-2, MK Lescault 3-4, Tullock 1-1, Felix 1-0, Kniskern 1-0, North 1-0. Goalkeepers: Glens Falls, Zacher, 6 saves; Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Morrison, 5 saves; Dohonue, 1 save.