Mechanicville couldn’t slay the dragon.
Guilderland had no such problem.
Mechanicville was stunned by a Hoosick Falls goal in the first minute of Tuesday night’s Class C championsip and never recovered, falling to the defending state co-champion, 6-0.
The Lady Dutch, on the other hand, scored a pair of first-half goals and ended Bethlehem’s run of Class AA titles at four with a 2-1 victory, advancing to Saturday’s regional final.
Maybe it was a case of not knowing any better because of its youth, but Mechanicville didn’t seem to take the loss to Hoosick Falls too badly.
The Lady Red Raiders fell behind 49 seconds into the game on the first of three goals by talented freshman Jordyn Haynes, and were down, 4-0, at the half. Senior Grace Delurey added a goal and four assists for the 18-2-0 Lady Panthers, who will play Section VII champion AuSable Valley here on Saturday at 1:30. AuSable Valley beat Section X winner Canton, 1-0, Tuesday night.
“We weren’t even supposed to be here this year,” said Mechanicville coach Karl Gerstenberger, whose team started four freshmen and a sophomore. “I told the girls if we got to the finals, we’d be happy. It wasn’t a great result, but we’ve got to look at the big picture.”
Hoosick Falls used its speed to put Mechanicville under pressure immediately, and Haynes struck for the first time 49 seconds in, sprung by Delurey. Less than 12 minutes later, Haynes got behind the Mechanicville defense for a 1-on-1 against goalie Kim Thompson, and made it a two-goal lead.
Haynes completed her first-half hat trick with 8:57 remaining. Delurey made it a four-goal game 92 seconds before the end of the half.
Gerstenberger opted to go with a flat back four, hoping to offset the speed of Hoosick Falls.
“I wracked my brain for three days and decided to try the offsides trap,” said Gerstenberger, whose team lost to the Lady Panthers in four overtimes in last year’s final. “But they are so fast and play everything to feet. That’s a great team. We have no reason to hang or heads.”
“Hoosick Falls is an unbelievable team.” said Mechanicville senior Mikayla Gowett. “I told the girls every time a goal went in that we can’t hang our heads. We can’t give up. That’s the last thing we wanted to do. I told them they didn’t want to say they quit playing in the sectional final.”
“I was surprised that they came out that way,” said Hoosick Falls coach Tom Husser, whose team also got goals from Rachel Pine and Allie Martin. “I thought, with our speed, that we would be able to get goals.”
“Back to back Section II championships, it’s a great feeling,” said Delurey. “It’s quite an accomplishment.”
Delurey knew if her team kept pushing forward, it would pay off.
“We took advantage of it,” she said of Mechanicville’s defensive alignment. “They caught us a few times, but we knew with our speed, we could beat them, so we kept going forward. You don’t want to give up. You want more goals.”
Guilderland took a 1-0 lead in the “AA” final when sophomore Emma Oliver scored with 13:59 to go in the first half. Junior defender Emily Center made it 2-0 when she put a free kick into the upper right corner with 5:30 remaining in the half. It was her first goal of the year.
Bethlehem pressed the attack, throwing four players to the front, but could only manage an Elle Lutz goal with 13:47 to play as Guilderland struck gold in the program’s first Section II final.
“For 25 minutes, it was all central. They hit one off the post early. Finally, we settled down, and Emma scored on that nice through ball from Jess [Jessica Capone] and we just got momentum,” said Curtis Snyder, the son of legendary Guilderland boys’ soccer coach Don Snyder, who is in his second year as the head coach of the Lady Dutch.
“We knew that our outside mids could get outside and hit some balls up to our speedy forwards, so we took advantage of that.“
That helped the 15-3-1 Lady Dutch counter the experience factor of the Lady Eagles, who finished 11-5-3.
“We had zero people who have been to the final. They have a whole team,” Snyder said. “We had to overcome that. Getting that second goal was so important. Just a fantastic shot, it really made a difference.
“This is extremely important. I think, now, people will understand Guilderland has some soccer players, and we’re going to be around for a while.”
“This means everything to us,” said Guilderland senior goalkeeper Jenna Cubello. “We’ve been looking forward to this. It’s been our goal all year. There’s no words to describe it.”
“It’s the first Section II playoff game we’ve lost since 2005,” said Bethlehem coach Tom Rogan. “Top to bottom, they’re a very talented team, and they really match up really, really well with us. We’re actually 1-4 against them the last five games.
“When they got up two, we knew it was going to be a struggle.”
“They’re here every year, and they’re going to bring their best game. It’s good to beat a good team like that,” said Cubello.
The Lady Dutch travel to Fulton High School in the Syracuse area on Saturday for a 5:30 p.m. contest against Section III champion Liverpool.
Loudonville Christian School won the first title in program history with a 1-0 win over top-seeded Fort Ann in the Class D championship game.
Fiona Fittro scored the goal with 8:23 to play in the first 15-minute overtime.
“From the start of the season, we played as a team,” said first-year head coach Joy Meyer. “We knew our strengths, and we knew our weaknesses. They knew that they had to play as a unit.”
Loudonville Christian, 14-3-1, will have to wait until next Tuesday to play for a spot in next Saturday’s state semifinals. That game is scheduled for here at 5:30.
Section IX champ Livingston Manor is scheduled to play Section XI winner Smithtown Christian Saturday in the regional semifinals. Both of those sections had their postseasons pushed back after Hurricane Sandy.