Nothing was going to prevent Mechanicville from earning a rematch with Hoosick Falls in the Class C girls’ title game.
Not the loss of 11 talented seniors from the 2011 team.
Not the inexperience of the team’s back four.
Not a talented Hoosic Valley semifinal opponent Friday night.
Not even the queasy stomach of leading scorer Mikayla Gowett, who scored the game’s only goal as the Lady Red Raiders advanced to Wednesday night’s title game with a 1-0 win over the Lady Indians.
Gowett lofted a 30-yard shot that snuck under the crossbar in the eighth minute of play, and she and her teammates managed to keep Hoosic Valley down the rest of the game.
The same couldn’t be said of Gowett’s pregame meal, which she left on the turf field at the start of the second half.
“I think I ate a little too soon before the game, that plus the nerves,” the senior said of an episode that got her a short respite at the start of the second half. “I got through it, and everything is OK.”
Gowett and her teammates fought for every inch of turf and every free ball throughout the 80 minutes, earning their chance at reversing last year’s outcome against the Lady Panthers, who beat Albany Academy, 6-0, in Friday’s other semifinal.
“We lost 11 seniors, and everyone thought we were the underdog,” said Gowett. “We weren’t really seen as a threat this year. But we were determined to prove people wrong.”
Gowett’s goal allowed Mechanicville to relax and play from the lead.
“I was like, ‘Oh, man. This better go in,’ ” Gowett recalled thinking as she let go her shot that resulted in the game’s only goal. “We needed a goal. When we score, the momentum keeps up. But at halftime, we knew we still had to play like it was a 0-0 game.
“We can’t get on our high horses and think, ‘Oh, we have the lead, we can back down,’ because Valley is a great team, and they kept coming at us.”
“We absolutely expected that type of game,” said Mechanicville coach Karl Gertsenberger, who saw his 2011 team suffer a tough four overtime loss in the class final. “We got the early goal and were able to hold on. I’ve never experienced a game like this where every single kid played great.
“They’re there for each other. They’re in the proper position to help. If someone gets beat, there’s someone there to take care of it. [Midfielder] Samie Hayner working back. [Midfielder] Aubrey Zecca working back, Mikayla working back, all to get a foot on the ball, they all played like that.”
“We just had an unmarked player, that’s all,” said Hoosic Valley coach Joel Beecroft of the goal. “But we’ve got nothing to hang our heads about.
“It’s not like we didn’t have our opportunities. We did everything we could have done, should have done, but the ball just didn’t bounce our way.”
Part of that was the effort of Mechanicville’s back four. Freshman sweeper Keara LaFoutain, fellow ninth-grader outside backs Renate Gerstenberger and Devon Scott and sophomore stopper Courtney Pingelski made goalkeeper Kim Thompson’s job easy, as they stepped up to prevent or block shots throughout the 80 minutes.
“They’re composed. The seniors let them make mistakes and grow as players and build this team,” said coach Gerstenberger, whose 15-3-1 team has won three straight one-goal playoff games.
“We have a great bunch of underclassmen that play with heart,” said Gowett. “Even though they’re young, they can get the job done.”
Hoosick Falls broke open its game with two goals late in the first half.
Jordyn Haynes had a pair of goals, and Grace Delurey, Liz Babson, Mackenzie Hinchliffe and Rachel Pine also scored as the reigning state Class C co-champs rolled to their 17th win against two losses.
“In the first 10 minutes, they came after us,” said Hoosick Falls coach Tom Husser. “I think once we scored, that kind of affected them. And we felt better, too. We moved ball, too.”
Fort Ann and Loudonville Christian School, the top two seeds, won their Class D semifinal games at Broadalbin-Perth.
Top-seeded Fort Ann ended the four-year reign of Northville as `D’ champ, beating the Falcons, 2-0, on goals by Kaleigh Foran and Demi Stockman.
Loudonville Christian beat St. Johnsville, 2-0, in the other game to set up Wednesday’s 3 p.m. final at Stillwater.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake will be after an eighth consecutive Class A title when the Lady Spartans meet Scotia-Glenville today at 1 p.m. at Stillwater High School. Reigning state Class B champion Schalmont, riding a 42-game unbeaten streak, plays Broadalbin-Perth in the second game of the championship double-header, slated for 3.
Four boys champions will be crowned today at Colonie High School.
Maple Hill plays Hoosick Falls in the Class C final at 10 a.m., followed by Ichabod Crane against Coxsackie for the Class B title; Northville playing Fort Ann in the `D’ championship; and Troy going against South Glens Falls for the Class A title.