It wasn’t the matchup Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ soccer coach Brian Bold wanted.
But neither was it one that third-year Mohonasen head coach Vito Urbano feared.
But the Lady Spartans had enough to get past the Lady Warriors, 2-1, Friday on the first step of what they hope will be a ninth consecutive Section II Class A title.
“I did not want to play a Suburban Council team in the quarterfinal game,” said Bold. “Mohonasen only won two games all year, but they fought hard all year. They showed that today.
“They played a great first half. Vito had his kids ready and they came out and gave us a good game.”
That’s an understatement.
Mohonasen challenged every ball, kept dangerous Morgan Burchhardt in check and pushed the hosts back into their defensive third for a good part of the final 15 minutes of the half.
But Burnt Hills showed its pedigree when Casey Doherty scored seven seconds before the break.
Center midfielder Meghan Malone found Doherty working herself free along Mohonasen’s back line, and the sophomore put a shot low past Mohonasen freshman goalkeeper Saeeda Abdul-Aziz.
Malone would also get an assist on the second goal, her perfectly timed through ball giving Burchhardt a clear run at goal.
“We needed to break away from them somehow, and that goal right before the half set the tone for the rest of the game,” said Malone, a junior who had played up top in her first three seasons on the varsity.
“We worked hard in the first half, and to come out of it up, 1-0, it allows you to take a breath,” Bold said. “In the second half, we started to get rolling a little more.”
The timing of the first goal would have been more than enough to discourage previous Mohonasen teams. But Urbano has turned that attitude around.
“That’s the toughest part, when you play 39:30 really well, contain them very well, you make one little tiny mistake and they get you for it,” he said.
To their credit, the Lady Warriors did not let the goal discourage them. Even down by two, they kept fighting and were rewarded when Taylor Wood scored after a corner kick by Sarah Pochobradsky.
“We’re getting closer,” said Urbano, whose 2012 team fell, 6-0, to Burnt Hills in the semis. “In the past, it’s always been Mohonasen is supposed to lose these kind of games. Getting them to believe Burnt Hills is just another team is the key.
“Burnt Hills has always been kind of a mental block for these girls. We would play great games, and then, when we’d get to Burnt Hills, even this year, we lost, 5-0.
“It even happened last year. We came in with a stronger team last year, but as soon as they got a quick early goal, we kind of fell apart. Today, they were ready to play.”
“We don’t want to be the doormat of the league any more,” said Pochobradsky, one of six seniors on the team. “It was nice that we could put up a good showing, and show we could hang with them.
“It’s a new attitude. We’re playing with a lot more heart. We had a couple of years where we weren’t very good, and didn’t have a lot of heart, but we’re changing that.”
What Mohonasen couldn’t do Friday was handle Malone.
“She was brilliant. It was one of those days where she was feeling it. Anything she wanted to do, she could do,” said Bold.
“We’ve been working with her, and really harping on her about where she needs to be in the field, holding the middle of the park for us, not getting too far forward.
“Today she covered a lot of ground, but, more than that, everything came through her.
“She connected everything for us from back to front. She was dangerous every time she had the ball. She was patient. She led us, no doubt about it.”
“I wouldn’t say its a big transition. You just have to fill the shoes of whatever position coach Bold puts you in,” said Malone of her role of directing the team. “You can’t take as many risks. There’s more pressure in midfield, because it’s one step closer to your goal.”
And her team is one win closer to its goal, with postseason rival Scotia-Glenville up next in a Tuesday night semi at Stillwater, a rematch of last year’s championship game.