STILLWATER – You hear it more in hockey than in soccer: Put it on net and see if something happens.
That’s exactly what Columbia did, and it worked to the Blue Devils’ favor.
Kennedy Ring’s early second-half goal was all top-seeded Columbia needed in a 1-0 win over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake on Friday in the Section II Class A girls’ soccer final at Stillwater High School. It was the first Section II girls’ soccer title in school history.
The whole game highlighted the great speed and technical ability of both teams, as bonafide scoring opportunities were rare.
That changed 4:18 into the second half when sophomore midfielder Ring took a long kick from the left side toward the goal. The ball bounced off a Spartans defender’s head and into the net.
“Open shot, so I decided to take it, hoping someone would get a head on it, and it went in,” Ring said.
“Kennedy is awesome,” Columbia coach Scott LaMora said. “She takes some phenomenal kicks and shots throughout the year, and it never surprises us when they go in at that point.”
Columbia (16-1-1) nearly scored again almost three minutes later, as it connected on a header off a corner kick that went away from Spartans goalkeeper Estella Mackey, but one of her backs saved the shot by kicking it away.
“All year, we’ve been a second-half team, and of course we come out and get the goal early in the second half, which we needed,” LaMora said. “And then we just played our game at that point: possessing it more, playing it from side to side.”
Columbia never gave third-seeded Burnt Hill-Ballston Lake (9-8-2) any decent scoring chances.
“Our defense and our goalie have been fantastic this year,” LaMora said. “We have 15 shutouts for the year. They work awesome together, they’re always communicating together, trying to secure the shutout each game.”
“The four of us are strong,” Blue Devils goalkeeper Anna Nassivera said of her backs and her. “We’ve been training really hard this past season, so it worked out in the end.”
“That’s what we had talked about at halftime, too: Just capitalize on any opportunity. Unfortunately, it just didn’t go our way,” Spartans coach Marisah Boucher said.
Boucher said her team became a family throughout the season, and she thanked her seniors’ leadership for that.
“I think they really drew everybody together,” Boucher said. “It’s unbelievable the progress we’ve made from August to now. This was our goal to be here. We got our goal. Didn’t quite get the win we were looking for, but I’m so proud of these girls.”
Columbia next plays the winner of a Section III/X regional semifinal in the regional finals on Nov. 5 at Mechanicville.
Halftime score: 0-0. Columbia scoring: Ring 1-0. Goalies: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Mackey, 5 saves; team, 1 save. Columbia, Nassivera, 3 saves.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports, Sports