Training sessions and scrimmages are all well and good, but coaches never know what type of team they have until the athletes actually have to perform as a unit on the field.
Given that, both Jason Beck and Chris Bailey were pleased with their teams’ effort in Friday’s opening round of the Capital Cup boys’ soccer tournament played at Schalmont.
Beck’s host Sabres resembled their 2013 side, rattling off seven unanswered goals to turn a 2-1 deficit into an easy 8-3 win over Troy. Bailey’s Scotia-Glenville Tartans likewise shook off an early deficit before wearing down a game Schenectady team, 4-1.
Scotia and Schalmont will play at 7 tonight for the championship.
“With the number of new players we have this year, you want to see how they play once they get on the field,” said Beck, who is replacing 11 seniors from a team that reached the Class B final last fall. “The start wasn’t the best, but they settled down.”
After Chris Hamilton scored the first of what would be a four-goal game, 2013 Big 10 runner-up Troy struck back with scores from Isaiah Hanson and Julian Schlemmer.
That concerned Beck, who is breaking in three new defenders and a goalkeeper.
“They responded. They settled in, started playing like we hoped they would,” said Beck, who started a single senior, two juniors, six sophomores and a pair of freshmen. “The defense was probably our biggest concern.”
Not only did the back four surrender one goal over the final 50 minutes of the game, they also started getting involved in the offense.
“They were playing right over the midfield,” said Beck “There was no connection with the midfield. Then they settled down and stared finding the midfielders instead of just hitting the ball down the field.”
If Friday is any indication, Schalmont should have no problem scoring goals.
The combination of Hamilton’s strength and ability to finish and R.J. Hayden’s relentless running and creating opportunties kept the Flying Horses on their heels the entire first half, as Schalmont did all of its scoring in the first 40 minutes.
Hayden and center midfielder Cameron LaVallee both finished with a pair of goals, and freshman midfielder Dan DiCocco seemed right at home in his first varsity game.
“The offense is going to be there,” said Beck. “Chris Hamilton is a beast. Hayden never stops working.”
DiCocco teamed with LaVallee to win possession and create chances for the strikers.
Beck wasn’t surprised.
“He’s a good player and he’s going to get better,” said Beck. “He sees the field and makes good decisions.”
Beck was so sure of DiCocco’s ability to adapt to the varsity levelt that he gave him the No. 10 jersey, which generally goes to a team’s most talented offensive player.
“That number carries a lot of meaning for us,” said Beck. “But I decided he deserved it from what I’ve seen of his play.”
Bailey’s situation is the opposite of Beck’s. The Tartans lost only a couple of players to graduation, and replacing goalkeeper Adam Ashcroft is his main concern.
Even with a a decided edge in varsity experience, the Tartans conceded the first goal of the first game when freshman Patrick Palmer gave Schenectady the lead 18 minutes in.
“It would have been a lot more helpful if we had scored first,” Bailey said. “We had one opportunity where we hit the post. They had the one shot, got a legitimate goal and put us back on our heels a little bit.
“We didn’t come into the game overconfident.We knew Schenectady had good ball possession skills, and they showed them.”
Mike Fraioli, who missed much of his junior year to injury, got the goal back late in the half. The senior also finished a three-way play with Owen Fingar and Billy Bean to give Scotia the lead for good 12 minutes into the second half.
Goals in the final 17 minutes by Fingar and Cameron Dylong pushed the Tartans into tonight’s 7 o’clock final with Schalmont.
Fraioli and Fingar give Scotia two dynamic attackers, but they won’t necessarily be paired up top.
“It would be great in the future if we could play them together, but right now, I‘m looking for someone to stand tall in the midfield, said Bailey. “And right now, that’s Owen.”
Bailey moved Bean up from his defender position to give the offense a spark, as the Tartans began to wear down the Patriots.
Scotia has tonight’s championhship game with Schalmont to do any fine-tuning in preparation for Thursday’s Foothills Council opener with Johnstown.
Host Glens Falls and Queensbury both lost in the opening round of the Adirondack Shootout.
LaSalle beat the Indians, 5-1, in the debut of GF coach Brian Turner, getting three goals from Alexi Brosnihan and two goals from Mike Blaauboer.
Logun Kunst had the Glens Falls goal.
Queensbury fell to Section VII’s Peru, 3-2.
The Spartans took the lead on Aaron Cook’s first of two goals, but Peru got three scores from Jonathan Plessis-Belair.
The four teams will switch partners in today’s second round.
Levi Ahl’s goal with 5:27 to play in the second overtime gave host South Glens Falls a 3-2 win over Albany in the first round of the Bulldogs tourney.