There wasn’t much separating Foothills Council boys’ soccer co-leaders Scotia-Glenville and Gloversville during their first half of the league season.
That changed slightly Friday, as the Tartans used Nick Alescio’s overtime goal to take a 2-1 home win over the Dragons.
“What this means is that right now, we are one game ahead of Gloversville,” said Chris Bailey, in his first year coaching at Scotia after 13 years and 200 wins at Schalmont. “We have to go to Glens Falls next, and play with the same intensity. This league is too balanced to allow us to relax.”
Both teams came into the game with 7-1-0 league records. The Dragons beat the Tartans under the lights at Gloversville, 1-0, three weeks ago. Gloversville’s only first-half blip was an overtime loss at South Glens Falls in its season opener.
“We’ve been playing very well, from the back to the front,” said Gloversville coach Paul Ligon, whose team ripped off six straight shutout league wins — and nine wins overall — after the early loss. “You need the guys up front to get the goals, but you also need those guys in the back to hold off the attack. They’ve been playing well together.”
Scotia was determined to end the game as quickly as possible in overtime.
“We wanted to put pressure on them,” said Alescio of the Tartans’ OT strategy. “We tried to keep possession in their end of the field.”
The work paid off 3:56 into the first 10-minute sudden-death session, when Alescio stepped into a ball laid off by Nicholas Hlat and beat Gloversville goalie Dan Krajcir clean to end the game.
“You want to play with a little urgencty in overtime. We didn’t, and they did,” Ligon said.
Bailey used his home field’s layout to its advantage, knowing Krajcir would be looking into a setting sun as he defended the east end of the field.
“I told the captains before they went out for the coin flip before overtime that if we lost the flip, we wanted to defend with the end with the shadows,” he said. “I knew their defense would be looking into the sun, and that might help us.”
Krajcir didn’t appear to get a clear look at Alescio’s shot from the top right of the box.
“I told him after the game that he’s the best goalie in the league, by far,” said Bailey of Krajcir, who was particularly strong taking shots and crosses out of the air. “We were very fortunate to get two past him.”
“He’s played well,” said Ligon of his senior goalie. “We like him a lot.”
Elliott Gordon gave Scotia a lead when he fought through a pair of defenders and pushed a shot past Krajcir midway through the first half.
“Just a real hustle goal,” said
Bailey. “I tell our team that we might not be as talented or skilled as some teams we play, but we never get outworked.”
Gloversville didn’t concede after the score, as the Dragons dangerous duo of Marco DeLilli and Jarred Antonucci got the visitors right back into the game, with Antonucci scoring from the near post less than a minute after Gordon’s goal.
“I think maybe we were expecting them to kind of fall back on their heels a little, but they didn’t,” said Scotia sweeper Caleb Buchanan, who made sure his teammates kept close watch on DeLilli and Antonucci for the remainder of the game.
“We were aware of them the entire game,” said the junior. “We had designated people marking them right from the start. I have the best view, so I can help out the other guys in the back.
“You always keep your eyes on the special players.”
“It equalized the momentum,” said Ligon of Antonucci’s goal. “But they pressured us a lot during the game. We seemed to have some trouble finding who we were marking.”
With a tenuous lead over the rest of the league, the Tartans know they have to maintain their focus as they finish the league schedule.
“We know we can’t let down, now that we have a little bit of a lead,” said Alescio. “We have to play hard every game.”
“We can’t get too excited, or look too far ahead,” said Buchanan, who turned in a solid game. “We want to finish the season strong, then do well in sectionals.”
The same holds for Gloversville, which goes to winless Hudson Falls on Monday.
“It’s going to sting for a little while,” said Ligon of the loss. “But we’ve got a lot of soccer left.”