BURNT HILLS – If sports are an extension of the classroom, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ lacrosse team passed an important test last Saturday.
The Spartans were down to Tappan Zee 6-2 with 15:57 left in a Class C state regional final. They rallied successfully, scoring the go-ahead goal on Maggie Lescault’s free-position shot with just under five seconds left, and won 8-7.
That has Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (18-3) in the state final four for just the third time in school history, with a 1 p.m. matchup Friday against Manhasset (Section VIII) at SUNY Cortland’s White Field.
“I think that game was a little different because we’ve been down, but we were down for a while, and in those big games, teams don’t usually come back,” said junior Ella Blesi, who scored three goals against Tappan Zee. “The big part of this game was where it was just us coming back from being down [so much].”
Having outscored opponents 321-145, being down is rare for the Spartans. But the talent and composure on the team showed when it needed to. Leading scorer MK Lescault said the team knew exactly what it needed to do, and credited head coach Katie Kerner for instilling confidence in the group.
“She was saying that teams have been down by way more than this and come back, so she knew we were going to come back and win,” MK Lescault said. “She had faith in us at halftime, but she did say to take care of the ball. Their defense was really good, and they were playing out on us, so take care of the ball and don’t force it in, because we had so many forced passes in the first half. Then we finally started to calm down.”
“I think we’re going into this game with a different game plan, especially since we didn’t come out the first half with the energy we normally do,” Blesi said.
Manhasset topped Bayport-Blue Point 8-6 in its regional final. Manhasset has recent tradition on its side. It won a state championship in 2018 and lost in the title game in 2019, the last time the final four was played. There were no spring state tournaments in 2020 or 2021 due to pandemic-related restrictions.
“Mission is not accomplished yet. It’s the expectation that Manhasset girls should get to the state championship round every year,” Clarke said.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake lost to Manhasset 9-3 in the 2014 Class B semifinals, and 16-1 to Mount Sinai in the 2017 Class C semifinals.
“We’re just excited because our program hasn’t been to the state final four in a while,” Blesi said.