The deeper a soccer team plays into the postseason, the more valuable goals become.
Both Guilderland and Mohonasen have hopes of playing deep into November, but both the Dutchmen and Mighty Warriors have work to do in the final third of the field.
“We’ve really struggled to finish. Not necessarily to have opportunities, but to finish them,” said Guilderland coach Mike Kinnally, whose team used a pair of goals by Connor Rubin to beat Mohonasen, 2-0, Tuesday. “I know it’s true of a lot of teams, but when you get the chances, you’ve got to put them away.”
Rubin’s goals were enough to help the Dutchmen improve to 9-2-2 and bounce back from a tough 3-0 loss Saturday at Bethlehem that kept Guilderland from gaining ground on the first-place Eagles in the Suburban Council South.
“That was tough, but this game was just as important,” said Guilderland captain Noah Scott. “It was for the same number of points. We needed to start playing better after the Bethlehem game.”
Guilderland scored 17 goals in five games, and 21 during a nine-game unbeaten run, prior to the Bethlehem game. Included in that was a scoreless draw with Niskayuna, the only other time Guilderland has been blanked this season.
But in the last five games, the Dutchmen have six goals.
“We played two games in 12 days, and now we have four in seven days,” said Kinnally, whose team lost to eventual Class AA champ Shenendehowa in last year’s sectional semifinals. “I’m hoping now that we get into a rhythm of playing games, that we get better.”
Mohonasen is in a familiar position, the smallest school playing in the Suburban Council that has used the regular season to prepare for a postseason that has produced Class A championships in three of the last four years, including 2011.
“Ideally, we’ll be hitting our stride come sectional time,” said Mighty Warriors coach Cory Gregg, who is less concerned about his team’s 4-9-1 record than he is about failing to produce a goal in four of its last five games.
“We’re not playing badly, we’re just not scoring enough goals,” he said. “We’ve had chances. We’re just not finishing right now.
“Today, we gave up a soft goal early. We had some chances to equalize in the first half, and in the second half, they cleared a ball off the line. The bounces have to start going our way. We haven’t had a lot of luck this year.”
The bad luck started when three-year varsity player Kyle Wright lost his senior year to a summer knee injury. With one less attacking option, Gregg moved senior Attilio Tebano into more of a possession midfielder.
“We need a little more possession and control in the middle of the field, and that’s what he gives us,” Gregg said of Tebano, who, with fellow senior Mike Korzun, are Mohonasen’s most dangerous players.
“Mike and ‘T’ are our leaders. Obviously, teams identify them and we haven’t gotten enough other players to score goals. It would also be nice to have Kyle Wright. That would give us another option.”
Kinnally wants to see his team use the final three regular-season games — against Averill Park, Niskayuna and Colonie — as a solid prep for the postseason.
“Up to this point, we’ve been playing pretty solid,” he said. We’ve been winning balls in the midfield and playing well in the back.
“If you took out the two Bethlehem games [seven of the 13 goals Guilderland has surrendered], we haven’t given up too many goals.”
“We’re well-rounded. We’ve got a lot of players who can play,” said Scott.
Mohonasen finishes with unbeaten Bethlehem and fellow Class A school Averill Park. Teams with .500 records qualify for sectionals, but Mohonasen, Averill Park and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake are historically allowed to petition into the tournament, after playing up one classification all season.
“We’ll peak in sectionals and make another run,” said Gregg.