Support and swarm.
With that approach, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake field hockey team built a big halftime lead and eased to a Section II Class B quarterfinal win over Scotia-Glenville Tuesday afternoon.
“We supported each other by backing up. We always had someone there,” sophomore Elise Zwicklbauer said after the Spartans began defense of their championship with a 4-0 victory. “That’s something we needed to improve on, and we did it when it counted. Everyone stepped up.”
Burnt Hills dominated the opening 30 minutes, using defensive stops and transition play to set up its aggressive offense. Zwicklbauer produced two quick goals and notched her third before the first half was through to make it 4-0.
“That was probably our best game as far as maintaining possession and pressuring them by going wide,” said BH-BL coach Kelly Vrooman. “By going wide, it opened up the passing lanes inside. Outside and inside we kept moving the ball forward.”
The Spartans’ relentless effort resulted in a 21-0 shot advantage in the first half. The Tartans rarely got the ball over midfield, and not once penetrated the Burnt Hills circle in the initial 30 minutes.
“Everyone realizes that if we’re going to go forward in the sectionals, we’ve got to play our best,” said Zwicklbauer. “To play our best, we’ve got to play as a team.”
Burnt Hills defenders Lexie Ball and Ashley LaMere were chief contributors to the cause, consistently thwarting offensive bids by the Tartans around the midfield area and driving the ball the other way.
“It’s a frame of mind, and it’s not always physical,” said LaMere. “It’s about how you support each other on the field and off the field.”
On the field the Spartans (No. 2 seed, 11-6) played with great intensity, just as they had during last year’s sectional run that included wins over Ichabod Crane, Queensbury and Johnstown. The Spartans outscored those opponents, 11-2, en route to their first title since 2007.
“Right before the game I told them, ‘It’s the start of a new season. Lose and you’re out.’” said Vrooman. “‘If you don’t want to have your season end, play hard,’ and we put up four goals in the first half.”
Carly Grant also scored for Burnt Hills, and Danielle Kempf, a recent junior varsity call-up, picked up her first varsity assist. Aubrey Kamppila, Olivia Green and Taylor Safford also set up goals.
“They have much better stick skills and ball control than we do,” said Scotia-Glenville coach Lisa Snyder. “They played a nice game.”
The Tartans (No. 7 seed, 6-11) put together their first effective rush 2:30 into the second half.
“Today was about being there for each other,” said LaMere, one of nine seniors on the BH-BL roster. “We’re getting better at it, and we’re getting better at transitioning the ball.”
Burnt Hills had a goal disallowed when Kamppila, setting up just beyond the circle, drilled the ball past Scotia-Glenville goalkeeper Naudia Smith three minutes into the contest. It was a sign of things to come.
“Before we went out there coach told us to do the things we’re capable of doing and don’t let up,” said LaMere. “She said play our game and accomplish goals as individuals and as a team.”
Zwicklbeuer scored from about six yards out with 24:32 left on an assist from Kempf, and from the same spot with 19:43 to go on a feed from Kamppila. Grant completed a penalty corner with 16:31 remaining from close range after Green made a strong run toward the cage and dished the ball.
Zwicklbauer collected her third goal of the game and sixth of the season, also from close range, with 6:46 to go after starting a penalty corner with the endline hit. Safford had the assist.
“On the corners, I go to the post so if a shot goes wide I can knock it in. That’s what happened,” Zwicklbauer said. “It was a three-person effort. I hit the ball up top to Kamppila. She got it to Safford and she took a shot, and I swiped it in.”
Scotia-Glenville’s best opportunity to score came with 10 minutes left when Lily Holcombe made a strong run into the circle and drove the ball just wide of the left post.
“Our goal was to get it over [midfield] and try to score,” said Snyder. “We were better in the second half.”
Smith made nine of her 10 saves in the first half. Brittany Ryan made four saves in the second half for BH-BL.
The Spartans had a 17-0 advantage in penalty corners.
“Everything really came together,” said Zwicklbauer. “That’s what you need to have a good game.”
Burnt Hills and Johnstown (No. 3, 12-5) will square off in a semifinal Tuesday after the Lady Bills edged Queensbury, 3-2, on goals by Mikaela Etherton, Bridgit Valk and Nicole Bentley.
Hope Cerasuolo and Kelsi Barnholt had assists for Johnstown. Christie Raymond had a goal and an assist for Queensbury (No. 6, 8-7), and Stephanie Hand also scored.
Olivia Higgins, Katie Washburn, Emily Sharpe and Kelsey Baldwin each collected a goal and an assist, and South Glens Falls (No. 1, 13-4) unleashed 20 shots in a 5-0 Class B win over Ichabod Crane (No. 8, 5-10).
Nicole Crawford also scored for the Bulldogs, who will host Glens Falls (No. 4, 9-8) in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
The Indians posted a 2-0 win over Emma Willard (No. 5, 10-5), getting goals from Cheyenne Randall and Stephanie Eddy, a pair of assists from Monica Harvey, and a seven-save performance from Haylee Mello.