While the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake field hockey team was often on the doorstep, Queensbury rarely knocked.
“Our communication was really strong,” senior goalkeeper Brittany Ryan said after Burnt Hills won its fourth straight Section II Class B title with a 2-0 win Sunday at Schuylerville. “We all had each other’s back. It was a team effort, for sure.”
Seniors Lexie Ball and Julia LeVan supplied the goals, and Burnt Hills shut down Queensbury for the second year in a row in the championship game.
Sunday’s blanking was even more impressive than last year’s 2-0 win, though, as Queensbury managed only four shots. Ryan handled the three that got through — all in the first half — for her 10th shutout this fall.
“Queensbury is a high-scoring team,” said Ryan, the starting goalie in each of the Spartans’ title-game wins. “They won one of their playoff games 11-0. We were prepared.”
That 11-0 win came against Hudson Falls in the quarterfinals, and a 7-1 semifinal win over Emma Willard followed.
“We held them out,” Burnt Hills coach Kelly Vrooman said.
Pressure at midfield was key for Burnt Hills (No. 1 seed, 16-2), where seniors Carly Grant, Elise Zwicklbauer and Danielle Kempf let little by. When they did, LeVan and her defensive mates stepped up.
“Our mids are so strong. We don’t see the ball so much,” LeVan said. “Every once in a while, the ball gets past. We try to stay staggered, and if someone gets beat, someone else comes up.”
Queensbury (No. 2, 15-4) was awarded four of its five penalty corners in the second half. Three came in quick succession nine minutes in, and Burnt Hills never budged while preserving its two-goal lead.
“I said this is a game for effort,” Vrooman said of her pregame pep talk. “I told the girls, ‘If you give it all you’ve got, we’ll win this game.’ ”
Grant played a significant role with her work at the midfield and on BH-BL’s penalty corner units. She served as a defending flyer at one end, and at the other, as a ball acceptor on insert passes.
Her feeds led to both of Burnt Hills’ goals.
“Carly played a great game at midfield,” Vrooman said. “She started off slow in our first few games, and I got on her about not being the all-star player she was as a junior. She’s been an all-star ever since.”
Kempf took the penalty corner insert hit to begin both scoring plays.
Grant accepted at the top of the circle on the first, dribbled forward and fired toward a pack of players. Ball got the tap past Queensbury netminder Lauren DeLor (13 saves) after a short pass from freshman Sadie Maxwell with 15:56 left in the first half.
On the second goal, Grant accepted the ball just off the top of the circle and again directed the ball toward heavy traffic in close, where Zwicklbauer fed LeVan 1:51 into the second half.
“This is amazing,” said LeVan, a starter in three title-game wins. “It feels so good to do it for our coaches. They work so hard to get us ready.”
Burnt Hills got a big scare with 17:08 left when DeLor kicked a ball directly into Ball’s kneecap on a save, and the star field hockey and lacrosse player slumped to the turf. She left the game and got iced down, and returned for the final few minutes as the Spartans wrapped up the title and became Section II’s first team to string four since Greenwich (Class C) from 2009-12.
Burnt Hills had 12 penalty corners and unleashed 15 shots.
“It’s a blessing,” said Ball, a four-time title-game starter. “I’m so thankful to be part of a great program.”
Burnt Hills and fellow Section II champs Shenendehowa and Schuylerville will see regional action Sunday against the Section III winners at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.