Nicole Beardsley sat on the track and changed out of her cleats as the rest of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ lacrosse team exited the playing field at Dietz Stadium.
“I’m a little slow today,” the Northwestern-bound senior said with a laugh.
Beardsley was anything but in the regional semifinal game that had just ended. She scored just 16 seconds in, and the Spartans had four more goals on the board before Minisink Valley unleashed its first shot in Wednesday’s 18-4 Class B victory.
“When you have a start like that, it’s good for you,” said Beardsley. “It gets everyone right into it. It says, ‘We’re here to play, and we’re going to do what we did all season.’ ”
The Spartans’ path to the state tournament was full of hustle on loose balls, pass-and-catch combinations and accurate shots. They did those things again against an overmatched Minisink Valley (Section IX, 12-6) contingent, and put themselves in position to make program history.
“We had no idea what to think. They made it here so they must be pretty good,” said Burnt Hills senior Mackenzie LeVan. “Our objective was to take care of what we need to do, and that was put the ball in the net. Take care of the little things, and put the ball in the net.”
Beardsley did that four times while adding three assists. LeVan had four goals and two assists, Nakona Wolfe notched four goals, Christina Krowel had three goals and an assist and Lexie Ball’s 14-save effort included four stops on free position attempts.
“I pulled up their stats and saw some film,” said Minisink Valley coach Billie Hanlon, whose niece, Jeanette Braun, was a senior on BH-BL’s first state team in 2011. “We knew who their better players were. We did the best we could.”
Burnt Hills scored the game’s first eight goals and led at the half, 14-3.
“We were vibing today,” said Ball, a sophomore. “We knew what we were doing. We knew we were going to get it done.”
What Burnt Hills (13-5) has not done is beat a Section I team in state play. The Spartans get another opportunity Saturday at noon when they take on Somers (17-0-1) at the Torne Valley Sports Complex in a regional final.
Burnt Hills beat Section IX’s Saugerties (14-8) before losing to Section I’s Yorktown (18-8) in the 2011 regionals. Last year, Burnt Hills dropped a regional semifinal to Section I’s John Jay-Cross River (19-14).
“We have one goal, and it’s Cortland,” LeVan said of the June 6-7 state final four location. “It’s been on our minds since March 1. Some of us since January. We want to accomplish that goal. We’ve worked so hard through rain, cold and snow.”
Burnt Hills coach Jake McHerron scouted Somers’ 15-12 overtime win against Yorktown in last week’s Section I title game.
“We’ve got to play our best to be successful,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot on the line. Neither of us has been there [final four]. I’m looking for us to be better as far as controlling the ball, being patient, moving the ball.”
“Section I is going to be tough, but if we focus on the little things and be the great team we are, we can accomplish anything,” said LeVan.
Burnt Hills outlasted Niskayuna in the longest Section II title game last week, winning on a Beardsley goal in the third overtime, 9-8. Beardsley got the Spartans headed in the right direction Wednesday when she picked up a bouncing ball off the draw, raced toward the Minisink Valley cage and scored 16 seconds in.
LeVan and Beardsley quickly increased the lead on strong runs from behind the cage to the front, Katrina Little made good on a free position, and Krowel delivered just over five minutes in.
After Amanda Paino hit the post on Minisink Valley’s first shot, on a free position opportunity, Wolfe sandwiched goals around a tally by Krowel.
“Getting to the state semifinals is always in the back of your mind, and we use it as motivation, but you’ve got to take it game by game,” said Beardsley. “You can’t get anywhere if you don’t get through today.”
Burnt Hills 14 4 — 18
Minisink Valley 3 1 — 4
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Elise Zwicklbauer 1-1, Mackenzie LeVan 4-2, Nakona Wolfe 4-0, Christina Krowel 3-1, Nicole Beardsley 4-3, Carly Grant 1-0, Emily Ankabrandt 0-3, Aubrey Kamppila 0-2, Nikki Pedone 0-1, Haley Schultz 0-1, Katrina Little 1-0. Minisink Valley scoring: Joan Cavender 1-0, Ali Dalton 0-2, Heather Molander 1-0, Amanda Paino 2-0.
Goalkeepers: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Lexie Ball, 14 saves. Minisink Valley, Alexandria Sasso, 4 saves.
Emma Hardy scored six goals to lift Albany Academy over Red Hook, 12-8, in a Class C regional semifinal game at Dietz Stadium.
Emily Martin had three goals for the Bears (14-4), who meet Bronxville (Section I, 11-7-2) in a regional final Saturday at 2 at Torne Valley Sports Complex near Suffern.
Red Hook (Section IX, 16-1) got four goals from Lindsay Hobron.