South Glens Falls stuns Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in Class B field hockey final; Bethlehem wins ‘A’ title

The South Glens Falls field hockey team celebrates the game-winning overtime goal to defeat Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake at Sunday's Section II Class B field hockey championship game at Gloversville High School.

The South Glens Falls field hockey team celebrates the game-winning overtime goal to defeat Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake at Sunday's Section II Class B field hockey championship game at Gloversville High School.

GLOVERSVILLE — An impressive field hockey streak ended Sunday in the Section II Class B title game, and who knows, maybe another one began.

Lillian Willis scored early in overtime as South Glens Falls clipped Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 2-1 to secure its first championship while ending the Spartans’ bid for 10 in a row.

Burnt Hills claimed its ninth consecutive area flag last season with a 1-0 victory over the Bulldogs, who turned the tables with a comeback effort that included a goal by Maeve McCarthy before Willis ended the battle at Gloversville High School.

“We talked about that. They didn’t want them to get their 10th,” South Glens Falls coach Mary Ponda said. “But it was more about what we wanted to achieve.”

After Burnt Hills (No. 1 seed, 16-2) played a strong third quarter and South High (No. 2 seed, 18-0) had the upper hand in the fourth with neither team scoring, the Bulldogs gained control of the ball in overtime and never gave it back.

“Getting the ball in OT is huge,” Ponda said. “We know it’s a game of possession, and we practice 7-on-7s all the time.”

Everything Scotia-Glenville

The contest ended quickly when, during a scramble in front, Willis took a shot that Burnt Hills goalie Katherine Jensen saved, and Willis knocked in the rebound.

“I made my shot and I just saw the ball [after the save],” said Willis, a sophomore. “I wanted to take it home for this team.”

It is an awfully young South High team, one that could be doing big things for years to come.

“We are a promising program coming up,” Ponda said. “I’ve got eight-graders, ninth-graders and 10th-graders playing big roles.”

Burnt Hills does, too, which could lead to even more title games between the Spartans and the Bulldogs in the coming campaigns.

“It was South Glens Falls’ year,” said Burnt Hills coach Kelly Vrooman, who guided the Spartans to a state title following their area success in 2021. “We’ll be back next year. The fight begins tomorrow.”

Willis put an end to this one shortly after McCarty, an eighth-grade JV call-up, shot just wide of the cage.

“I saw it going in and wanted to celebrate with my teammates,” Willis said. “It was a super exciting game and very special to do it after both of my sisters weren’t able to.”

Addisyn Knapik scored for Burnt Hills on a penalty corner at the end of the first quarter after time had expired, ripping a shot inside the left post after taking a right-to-left pass from fellow freshman Lily Mastrella.

South Glens Falls countered with 5:17 remaining in the second quarter when, on a penalty corner, McCarty tipped the ball in near the right post after junior Mia Benincasa fired the ball toward the cage.

“This group never gives up. It’s the best quality about them,” Ponda said. “They said they didn’t want to be done.”

Burnt Hills wasn’t planning to be through as it looked to add another win after sweeping its way through the Suburban Council and then roughing up Scotia-Glenville 7-0 in the semifinals.

“We had too many chances that we didn’t capitalize on,” Vrooman said. “Let them feel what this feels like. You hope it motivates kids for the future.”

Jensen, who along with Maddy Connelie and Maggie Hughes are Burnt Hills’ only seniors, made seven saves. Junior Ava Reynolds made 10 saves for South Glens Falls.

Burnt Hills’ nine straight championships is a Section II record.

South Glens Falls, this year’s Foothills Council champ, will take on Section I rep Lakeland in a regional title game next Sunday at 1 p.m. at Mahopac.


Haley Backlund scored a fourth-quarter goal, and Bethlehem edged Shenendehowa 1-0 to earn its first Section II Class A field hockey championship.

The two Suburban Council teams went back and forth and traded opportunities before Backlund cashed in on a penalty corner with 12:50 left. Backlund took a left-to-right pass from fellow senior Violet MacDonald at the top of the circle and drilled the ball into the low right corner of the cage.

Backlund was also the scoring star in a 5-0 quarterfinal win over Niskayuna with a pair of goals.

“We looked at each other and it was, ‘We got to get it in,’ ” Backlund said of herself and MacDonald. “Time was running out.”

Bethlehem (No. 3 seed, 12-7) had made its last title-game appearance in 1998 and lost to Columbia 2-0.

“It feels so good to win it with my team, and especially with the other seniors,” Backlund said. “We put in so much work. It’s great. This is so exciting.”

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Shenendehowa (No. 5 seed, 8-11) was attempting to repeat as Class A champion with an entirely new cast of starters on a team that had placed second in the 2021 state tournament.

Shenendehowa had avenged two regular season losses to Shaker and top-seeded Saratoga Springs to reach what was a record 12th consecutive Class A final, but couldn’t get its payback against a Bethlehem team that also logged two regular season wins against the Plainsmen.

“It speaks a lot to their character. To their work ethic,” Shenendehowa coach Shawn Eggleston said of her team’s run to the title game. “We put it together. It just took some time.”

Shenendehowa played its best in the third quarter when it was awarded four penalty corners, only to be denied each time by the Eagles.

“We turned things around in the second half,” Eggleston said. “In the third quarter we played fantastic. We couldn’t capitalize.”

Both Teagan Rosencranse of Bethlehem and Evelyn Noakes of Shenendehowa made some fine saves in heavy traffic, and finished with five and seven stops, respectively.

Each of the last 14 Class A finals have been decided by one goal, including Shenendehowa’s 1-0 win over Guilderland last season

Bethlehem will play Section I champ Scarsdale in a regional title game next Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at Mahopac High School..


Shenendehowa 0 0 0 0 — 0

Bethlehem 0 0 0 1 — 1

Shenendehowa scoring: None. Bethlehem scoring: Backlund 1-0, MacDonald 0-1. Goalkeepers: Shenendehowa, Noakes, 7 saves. Bethlehem, Rosencranse, 5 saves.


South Glens Falls 0 1 0 0 1 — 2

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 1 0 0 0 0 — 1

South Glens Falls scoring: Willis 1-0, McCarty 1-0, Benincasa  0-1. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Knapik 1-0, Mastrella 0-1. Goalkeepers: South Glens Falls, Reynolds, 10 saves. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Jensen, 7 saves.

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Categories: Clifton Park and Halfmoon, High School Sports, Scotia Glenville, Sports, Sports

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