There have been some close finishes in recent years to decide the Foothills Council girls’ soccer championship, but nothing compares to this season.
Scotia-Glenville used an early Max Culhane goal to beat visiting South Glens Falls, 1-0, on Saturday. The win left both the Lady Tartans (11-2) and Lady Bulldogs — along with Broadalbin-Perth — atop the league with 11 wins.
Scotia plays at 10-3-0 Queensbury on Monday, with a win or tie giving it the league title. A Queensbury win would result in four teams finishing 11-3-0.
“It’s been crazy,” said Scotia coach Lise Williams, whose team has finished second to South High the past three seasons. “I’ve never seen it like this.”
Culhane’s goal came on Scotia’s lone dangerous attempt in the first half. She split two defenders to get on the end of a Rachael Cox free kick, and looped the ball over advancing goalkeeper Amy Jagareski 8:06 into the game.
“I wasn’t sure it would be enough, because they’ve got good players,” said Culhane. “But the defense played great. We knew we had to win this game if we wanted to win the league.”
Cox was steady throughout the game at midfield, and her long throw-ins helped Scotia keep play in the South Glens Falls end.
“The seniors, especially, wanted this badly,” Cox said. “Getting the lead early was great, but we knew we couldn’t let up. We had to keep playing hard right to the end.”
Shortly after Culhane’s goal, the teams had to wait out a thunderstorm that held the game up for an hour.
“We talked about what we needed to do,” said Cox. “It might have been a little less stressful because we were ahead.”
“It was more about where we need to move the ball. That we had to play more defensively oriented,” Williams said. “There were two of us on the ball a couple of times because we weren’t communicating.
“So, it was, ‘Play smart, play good defense and get your offense off of the defense.’
“But they [South Glens Falls] could have come out with a different game plan. And they were starting with an indirect kick in our defensive third. That was scary. It wasn’t the ideal situation when we came back out.”
Junior goalkeeper Carina Moran wasn’t busy, but she was sharp in one sequence, sliding out to get a piece of what could have been the 127th career goal for Lady Bulldogs’ standout Sammy Blizzard. The shutout loss was only the second for South High, which will take a 13-3-0 record in the Class A sectionals.
“She played great,” said Culhane of Moran. “She really stepped up, and we thanked her for that.”
“That’s probably the best she’s played,’ said Cox.
“Corina played a solid game, and a couple of the others played the best I’ve seen them play,” said Williams, whose team is 12-2-1 overall.
Now, the Lady Tartans must do what the four title contenders have failed to accomplish all season —winning on the other team’s field — if they want to take their first league title since 2008.
“Nobody has done that all year?” Culhane asked. “We have to be the first one.”
“We knew what we had to do,” said Cox, referring to Scotia’s last two regular-season games. “Now, we have to go up there and win. This is something the seniors have wanted for a long time.”
“The way I look at it is that this is the way we’re going to have to play in sectonals,” said Williams, whose team will likely lock up the No. 2 Class A seed behind Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake with a win at Queensbury. “So, having two games at the end where we have to play at that level is good for us.”