Section II has nine soccer teams still in the running for state championships.
Not surprisingly, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls are among that group.
“We don’t take anything for granted,” said Spartans’ junior midfieder Jillian Beatty, who will be playing in her third Class A regional final today when Burnt Hills meets Section X champion Franklin Academy of Malone at 5 at Stillwater High School. “We always expect to be playing this time of year, but you can’t go into any game overconfident.”
This marks the sixth time in Brian Bold’s seven years as head coach that the Spartans have reached the state quarterfinals, and they have beaten the Huskies at this step on the state tourney ladder each time.
Schalmont plays Beekmantown of Section VII in the girls’ B game at 2:30, and Bethlehem gets Section III’s Liverpool in the noon opener of the triple-header at Stillwater.
Northville (Class D) and Hoosick Falls (Class C) are on the road for their regional finals.
The Shenendehowa (Class AA) and Broadalbin-Perth (Class B) boys are after their second trip in three years to the state final four, both playing in Section II. The Plainsmen get Baldwinsville from Section III at 2 p.m. at Colonie High School. Unbeaten Broadalbin-Perth meets Beekmantown at 7 at Schuylerville High School.
Burnt Hills knocked off the Huskies. 4-0, last year before losing in the state semifinals.
“We’d want to go farther this year,” said senior Jess Lyden, who plays up top with freshman Meghan Malone and 10th-grader Morgan Burchhardt. “We’ve had some changes from last year, but now everyone knows what’s expected.”
“We’ve got our routine that was always stick to on game day, and that’s not going to change,” said Bold. “We’re going into this game like every other one, confident in ourselves, but respecting the other team.”
The 16-4-0 Spartans had to make up for graduation losses on defense this season, with Kaita Albanese the lone returning defender at season’s start. Nicole Shively can play defense or midfield and is Bold’s go-to defender if an opposing player requires individual attention.
Beatty, a strong finisher in previous years, has settled into a holding midfield role, with senior Chloe Hay and sophomore Michaela Hitt on the outside.
“Jillian has played through a lot of pain this year after suffering a knee injury,” said Bold, who is 7-for-7 in Section II finals. “She can’t make that 60-yard run like used to, but she’s a steadying influence in the midfield.
“Chloe was a reserve last year who really has grown into her spot this year, and Michaela came on when we moved ‘Shives’ to midfield, and she hasn’t been out of the lineup since.”
This is Schalmont’s first trip to the state quarterfinals since 2006, when the Sabres reached the semis.
“We’ve got eight seniors that either start or are important coming off the bench,” said Schalmont coach Angelo Caschera, whose team has used a potent offense and stingy defense to post a 20-0-0 record. “They know at this stage of the season, any game could be their last. They don’t want that to happen.”
“We’re going in confident, but we’re not taking them lightly,” said senior co-captain Hannah Saccocio.
Schalmont needed two goals by junior Diana DiCocco in the first overtime to beat Lowville in Tuesday’s regional semifinal.
“If we score first, I think we’ll get our heads on right,” said co-captain Shana Reagan. “If we wait until the last minute, it gets a little nerve-wracking. We do seem to be a second-half team. Sometimes, we take a while to get into it.”
Northville plays Section IX champ John A. Coleman at Middletown High School at 1:30, and Hoosick Falls has a 1 p.m. start at Massena High School against Tupper Lake.
Bethlehem and Northville have both lost in this round the last three years.
The Shenendehowa boys (18-1-0) are in the regional finals for the second time in three years. Mike Campisi’s teams have won six state titles, the last in 2005.
Goalkeeper Spencer Junco and center backs Shane Breznak and Joe Kromer anchor the defense, and the Plainsmen’s midifleld is led by senior Michael Jenkins. Adam Barlow and Jenkins had the goals in Monday’s 2-1 win over Colonie in the sectional final.
Baldwinsville beat Fayetteville-Manlius on penalty kicks after the teams played a scoreless tie through OT in their Section III final. The Bees have two big scorers in
Michael Guardino (14 goals) and Ben Ramin (16 goals).
Broadalbin-Perth (16-0-3) is the only unbeaten team in Section II. Led by all-Foothills Council goalkeeper Madison Wilcox and high-scoring Dominic Kwiatkowski — the Foothills co-Player of the Year with 33 goals — the Pats also get strong play from league first-team all-stars Tucker Wilcox (12 goals, 18 assists) and Mark Sylvia.