In its first venture this deep into the postseason, the Guilderland girls’ soccer team got a reminder of how cruel the sport can be.
The Lady Dutch fought Section V champion Webster Thomas evenly for 110 scoreless minutes in Saturday night’s Class AA state semifinal at Cortland High School, only to see the most successful season in program history come to an end in a penalty kick tiebreaker.
“We don’t like PKs. We lost in the [sectional] quarterfinals last year, so we weren’t looking forward to it,” said Guilderland coach Curtis Snyder. “When it comes down to that, it’s anybody’s game.
“I feel bad for the girls. It’s easier to take if you lose it on the field. It’s just more palatable to them. This is something that doesn’t happen in most sports. I’ll coach other games, but this is the end of a career for a lot of them. They’re upset now, but I hope they look back and see that they’ve certainly made history.”
Titans’ goalkeeper Brenna Mason, headed to Colgate University next fall, got her team a quick edge in the PK round when she dove to her right and turned away Emily Center’s well-taken attempt. Kara Caman made the Lady Dutch’s second PK, but when Casey Upadahya converted, it gave Webster Thomas an insurmountable 4-1 edge and a spot in today’s title game.
“Emily has been automatic for us, and she [Mason] guessed right,” Snyder said. “I don’t think Jenna [Guilderland goalkeeper Jenna Cubello] could have saved any of theirs. They placed them very well.”
“It [stinks].” Cubello of the tiebreaker. “We’ve come a long way, and we deserve everything we’ve gotten. We played a great team, and played well.
“It’s a bad way to end a soccer game. It’s a crapshoot.”
Snyder could have gotten a notion that goals would be hard to come by. The Lady Dutch took three corner kicks in the first four minutes, the third the result of a great reflex save by Mason. Guilderland finished with a 13-1 edge in corner kicks, with Webster Thomas rushing and wasting theirs early in the second five-minute sudden death period.
“You would think out of 13 stopped-ball situations, we would get something,” Snyder said. “If we get one, it changes everything. It changes the whole dynamic of the game.”
The corners were the result of the Lady Dutch flying forward at the outset, finding each other with crisp short- and medium-length passes.
“We had a week to get ready. The girls were amped up. I was hoping we could get one early like we did in our regional game, but it just didn’t happen.” said Snyder.
“For the first 10 or 15 minutes, we really took it to them. Then it settled down and was back and forth. They had some great chances, and we had some great chances. I told the girls, ‘Somebody has got to score.’ It was just that type of game.”
But no one did.
“I would have loved for us to get a goal and not go to PKs,” Cubello said. “We did what we could for 120 minutes.”
Mason held firm at her end of the field, and Center was solid in the center of the Guilderland
defense, with Cubello safe and steady behind her.
Both teams had nearly identical great scoring chances late in regulation. Jess Capone steered a header just wide of the post, and Webster Thomas’ Nicole Geritz had a mirror image result moments later.
“We thought we could turn the corner on them and spread their defense out, and we did,” Snyder said. “We had chances. We just didn’t finish. That’s been the hallmark of this team, we’ve been putting the ball in the back of the net.
“Give their defense credit. Their goalie is going Division I, and she made that one great save early, which is just a reaction save that a lot of goalies can’t make.”
The result, technically a tie, left the Lady Dutch with a 16-3-2 final record after a 2-2-1 start.
“We had little goals,” said Snyder. “We wanted to win 10 games. Then it was ‘Hey, we can win our division.’ Then it was, ‘We can make a run in sectionals,’ and we made a run in sectionals.
“As you keep winning, your confidence exponentially grows. It was like, ‘We can do this. We’re one of the best in the state.’ We’re one of the best in the state, regardless of the outcome.”
“We set the bar. We made history,” said Cubello, one of seven
seniors who started for Guilderland. “To make it this far, I’m proud of everything we’ve done.”
Snyder is counting on this season establishing a tradition.
“We were competitive. We didn’t get blown out. We didn’t walk off the field and hang our heads,” he said. “I told them, ‘We’re going to get a bunch of people to cheer for us when we walk out of here, and they deserve every bit of it.’
“The younger girls on the team are going to build on this. Don’t count us out coming back next year.”
Hoosick Falls got two goals from freshman Jordyn Haynes, and one from senior Grace Delurey, to beat Friends Academy (Section XI), 3-0, in a Class C semi at Tompkins-Cortland CC.