It was a day of free soccer for the last two Section II girls’ soccer teams, as both went to overtime in their state semifinal games Friday.
In Class B, sophomore Abby Maiello’s overtime goal lifted Mechanicville into the state championship game for the first time since 2001 with a 2-1 victory over Livonia of Section V at Homer High School.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, on the other hand, lost, 3-2, to Greece Arcadia in Class A on Allie Borrelli’s goal with 1:05 left in the second five-minute sudden-death overtime, ending nearly 109 minutes of play at SUNY-Cortland.
In the Mechanicville win, Maiello recorded both goals, her first coming just 1:26 into the second half to open the scoring.
“Abby’s a real solid player, a real dynamic player, and she’s really matured over the last couple years she’s been on varsity,” Mechanicville coach Liz Villamil said. “I think the best players shine when it comes to this level, so you’ll probably see that in all the teams.”
Mechanicville will play Section I champion Briarcliff today at 2 p.m. at SUNY-Cortland.
Maiello said the Red Raiders weren’t playing to their potential in the first half, but a pep talk helped them come out of the break strong. The goal came on a corner kick from Tori Bredenberg that found its way to Maiello’s head on the far side.
The momentum fizzled, however, as Livonia controlled the possession for the rest of regulation and punched in an equalizer with 14:12 left in the half. It came on a Margaret Horan direct kick from 20 yards out on the left side, which she banked off the far post and into the net.
Mechanicville goalie Kelsey Desadore made 16 saves, but credited the defense in front of her for regrouping in time to pull out the win.
Maiello’s game-winner came with 6:49 left in the first 10-minute overtime, leaving 16:49 left to play. She finished a low centering pass from Alysa Russell, sending it past a diving Hannah Conine in the Livonia goal. Conine finished with eight saves, and got a hand on this shot, but couldn’t stop it.
The 17-2-2 Red Raiders started the first overtime period with more urgency than they showed in the second half, thanks to another pep talk from Villamil, Maiello said.
“She [Villamil] just told us we had to get our heads back in it and go out there and play,” Maiello said. “We could win this, we just needed to play our game.”
Desadore said her confidence in her defense sets her mind at ease heading into the net today with a chance to win the program’s first state title since 1988.
“I feel pretty calm about it,” she said. “I know if it comes down to it, I can get it done, and I know the rest of my team does their best not to let the ball get to me. It takes a lot of pressure off me.”
Burnt Hills controlled its game throughout, allowing only a handful of quality Greece Arcadia chances, but the Titans kept finding a way to even the score.
“That’s sports,” Burnt Hills coach Brian Bold said. “We were the better team today from whistle to whistle, but it’s not always the better team that prevails.”
The Spartans got on the board first, 6:35 into the game, when freshman Jillian Beatty scored with a blast from the left side off Greece goalie Jessica Sexton’s gloves.
Greece recovered less than four minutes later, when Sexton went forward and headed in Jori Semrau’s direct kick from the right side. Sexton finished with nine saves, while Emily McNutt made 13 for the Spartans.
Beatty scored again 5:12 into the second half, this time on a pass from Maria Malone. It took 10 minutes for the Titans to find an answer, when a direct kick from Semrau bounced around in a crowd before being finished by Kelly Shoniker. Borrelli’s game-winner in sudden death came on an assist from Semrau.
Late in the game and into the overtime sessions, the Titans pushed up their defense farther and farther to catch the 14-5-3 Spartans offside, often on close calls.
Junior captain Sarah Glowa said the Spartans are used to the pressures of overtime, and just kept battling.
“We’ve played so many overtimes this year,” she said. “We’ve played 100 minutes, we just keep going. You’ve got to just push through. We keep our heads up, keep positive the whole time and have each other’s backs the whole time.”
Five seniors will be lost to graduation, but Bold said the returning side will be tough to beat.
“We’ve got a young group that has the experience of being here and playing here,” he said. “They’re going to come back next year and have the same focus and desire this group had.”