It wasn’t pretty early, but the Spartans got rolling late.
Coming off a lopsided loss in the season finale and missing their top scorer, it took the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Spartans about 24 minutes to find a rhythm Monday, but they looked sharper as the game wore on and beat Amsterdam, 10-2, in the first round of the Section II Class B tournament.
Both teams spent the first half chasing loose balls after missed connections.
“In the first half, we struggled with unforced errors and things we could have fixed easily,” Burnt Hills attack Will Clark said. “At halftime, our coach gave us a little pep talk about what we needed to go out and do, what we needed to fix, and how we needed to get better.”
The Spartans were coming off Thursday’s 22-0 loss to Niskayuna, last year’s Section II Class B champion. The Silver Warriors, though, are in Class A this year.
“One of the things we talked about was, we took a couple days off, so we tried to approach what happened in the first half, was kind of getting back into the groove,” Spartans coach Tom Schwan said. “What we were going to do in the second half was come out like we were ready to start and play the game. We tried to take that mentality and keep coming at them, keep moving the ball.”
After killing off back-to-back penalties early in the third quarter, the Spartans started clicking on the attack. A man-up goal by Mike Leveroni was set up by Alec Lind, and two minutes later, Lind scored from the point for a 5-0 lead.
Clark finished with four goals and an assist to lead the Spartans, a squad used to seeing Austin Clark’s name all over the scoresheet. Austin Clark, though, separated his shoulder a week ago against Saratoga Springs. He said he is hopeful he can return for Thursday’s semifinal match-up with No. 2 Queensbury, a team Burnt Hills beat, 6-2, on May 1.
Burnt Hills (No. 3, 7-10) also got three goals from Josh Fortin. Will Clark said the Spartans rallied to replace some of the offensive production missing with the loss of 40-goal-scorer Austin Clark.
“Once we knew he was injured with a separated AC joint, everyone decided to step up and we knew we had to rally around each other, use that as motivation to be better,” Will Clark said.
“We’ve had multiple midfielders play the attack spot and do well there. Guys like Jon Fitzgerald, Alec Lind and Max Charlton go in there and do their thing, just work hard and bring the team together however they can. Guys stepped up today. Josh Fortin played well.”
On the other end, the Spartans’ defense limited Amsterdam’s opportunities. Several of the Rams’ man-up chances came and went without a shot on goal, and goalie Jake Henk finished with eight saves.
“We did a better job in the second half, especially, with communication — who was going to be the hot guy, who was going to slide,” Schwan said. “I thought our poles did a nice job of maintaining their position, not going too crazy or going overboard. It worked well for us over the course of the game.”
Part of the Rams’ troubles on the attack came from a less-disciplined approach in the first half.
“When we improvise and try to do our own thing, we struggle,” Amsterdam coach Paul Furman said. “We clearly struggled today. Our offense wanted to try to do their own thing and improvise, and it just doesn’t work for us. When we run the offense we’re taught, we put up very high points.”
The Rams (No. 6, 9-8) got a pair of second-half goals from Kevin Ottati, and Dillon Smith made 10 saves.
Queensbury (11-6), the team Burnt Hills beat for the 2011 sectional crown and lost to in the 2012 finals, reached Thursday’s semifinal with a 15-1 win over Troy (No. 7, 2-15).
Ben Willows factored into 12 goals, scoring seven and assisting on five. Sean Duffy and Mike Carpenter both added two goals.
In the other first-round game, No. 4 Scotia-Glenville beat No. 5 South Glens Falls, 16-6, with four goals from Dan Graham and three apiece from Sam Carmola and Zach Musto. Jake Kerr scored three goals for South Glens Falls.
Liam DiBlase made eight saves in the Tartans’ third win of the season over the Bulldogs. They will play their semifinal Thursday against No. 1 Albany Academy, which received a bye.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE 10, AMSTERDAM 2
Amsterdam 0 0 1 1 — 2
Burnt Hills 1 2 2 5 — 10
Amsterdam scoring: Kevin Ottati 2-0. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Will Clark 4-1, Josh Fortin 3-0, Mike Leveroni 1-2, Alec Lind 1-1, Jake Thurnau 1-0, Max Charlton 0-2.
Goalkeepers: Amsterdam, Dillon Smith, 10 saves. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Jake Henk, 8 saves.
QUEENSBURY 15, TROY 1
Troy 0 0 0 1 — 1
Queensbury 2 5 6 2 — 15
Troy scoring: Jahsiere Graham 1-0. Queensbury scoring: Ben Willows 7-5, Sean Duffy 2-0, Mike Carpenter 2-0, Rob Pollaro 1-2, Braden Kietzman 1-1, Brendan DiThomas 1-0, Shay Benedetto 1-0, Tyler Raymond 0-1.
Goalkeepers: Troy, Trayvon Johnson, 16 saves. Queensbury, Will Goody, 0 saves; Ted Nolan, 2 saves; Jeremiah O’Connor, 2 saves.
SOUTH GLENS FALLS 6
South Glens Falls 1 1 1 3 — 6
Scotia-Glenville 2 6 3 5 — 16
South Glens Falls scoring: Jake Kerr 3-0, Pat Kimmel 1-0, Callan LeMay 1-0, John Stycynski 1-0. Scotia-Glenville scoring: Dan Graham 4-0, Sam Carmola 3-0, Zach Musto 3-0, Ian Flaharty 2-1, Tom Marola 2-1, Cullen Swider 2-1.
Goalkeepers: South Glens Falls, Bryce Bogan, 7 saves. Scotia-Glenville, 8 saves.