That Scarsdale scored with no time left on the clock meant little to the Shenendehowa field hockey team.
They had just completed a perfect season with the school’s second state Class A championship in four years, and the game-winning goal came on a give-and-go that was perfect, too.
“It speaks to the quality of kids and how hard they worked,” Shenendehowa coach Jeanne Frevola said after Sunday’s 2-1 win on the Maine-Endwell High School turf. “They had this in mind after every game.”
The last one was a near-masterpiece, with Shenendehowa (21-0) getting a pair of first-half goals from Carli Pelletier and Kelly Buckley while shutting down Scarsdale (Section I, 18-3-1) for more than 60 minutes. Only a tap-in by Erin Nicholas on a prolonged penalty corner at the end prevented the Plainsmen from recording their 17th shutout.
The Plainsmen, who were watching from the sideline, rushed the field when the clock reached zero to join their teammates who had stopped defending. Scarsdale kept playing, and the ball trickled across the goal line moments later.
“Last year was really disappointing,” Buckley, a senior back and all-tournament pick, said of a 1-0 semifinal loss to Ward Melville on the same field. “We all left with tears in our eyes and everyone on that team knew we had one goal and that was to get back here. Yesterday was the icing. Today was the cherry on top.”
Shenendehowa completed its first undefeated season, and for Frevola, it was her second campaign without a loss. Her 1987 Hoosick Falls team that captured the state Class B crown was also unbeaten (24-0).
“It means everything to bring this title home to Clifton Park,” Buckley said, before commenting on her team’s perfect record. “I get to brag about that for the rest of my life. My sister [Erin] was on the 2013 team, but they didn’t go undefeated. A lot of teams can’t do this.”
Shenendehowa avenged last year’s semifinal loss with a 2-1 overtime win against Ward Melville Saturday before becoming only the third Section II Class A team to claim the New York championship. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake was the first in 1987.
“After last year, I remember going up those in tears,” senior back Morgan Bronk said as he pointed toward a set of steps that lead from the field. “We were so happy walking up them today.
“The semifinal gave us momentum for today, beating the team we lost to last year.”
Like Saturday, Buckley scored the decisive goal for Shenendehowa on a penalty corner.
“It was perfect yesterday, and we did the same play, only I went left yesterday and went right today,” Buckley said. “They saw that goal and I bet they thought I was going to go left, so I switched it up.”
Taryn Marra inserted the ball to Buckley at the top of the circle, and as Buckley moved forward, she slid a pass to Pelletier. Pelletier returned the feed and Buckley let it rip with 12:49 left in the first half.
“It was a perfect insert,” said Pelletier, a senior forward who joined Marra and Buckley on the all-tourney team. “It was a perfect pass to me and a perfect pass back.”
Quickness with the ball was the key.
“We scouted both sides,” Buckley said of Scarsdale’s 3-2 overtime win against Baldwinsville in Saturday’s other semifinal. “On corners, they [Scarsdale] had three girls come out to the top. We had to move the ball fast.”
Both of Shenendehowa’s goals came on penalty corners. Shenendehowa finished the game with a 13-6 advantage in that department.
“We had a plan,” said Frevola, who could be heard calling out a plays before each corner. “We selected penalty corners to use in the game, and the first couple were great. We were on the bus watching tape coming here. You’ve got to be prepared for these games.”
Pelletier was ready when the ball came her way after a drive by Buckley was stopped by Scarsdale netminder Lila Harwood. Pelletier pounced on the rebound and from about five yards away knocked in Shenendehowa’s first goal with 23:14 left in the opening half.
“It came right to me and I one-timed it,” Pelletier said. “It was very awesome.”
Shenendehowa’s defense has been just that all season, and in the first half, Plainsmen goalkeeper Sheridan Messier never touched the ball.
“We do a drill all the time that we call ‘around the horn,’ ” said Bronk, who, with Buckley, McKenzie Woerner, Erin Robbins and Bridget Shanahan, anchored that defensive group. “When we do that drill, you get rid of the ball quickly. That helped us.”
Scarsdale was awarded five of its six penalty corners in the final 10 minutes, and during that stretch, Messier made her only two saves. Harwood made her three saves in the first half.
Nicholas’ goal stood because penalty corners are allowed to be played out even if time expires. Burnt Hills and Scotia-Glenville both won games in that manner during the regular season.
“Scarsdale did a nice job keeping up the pressure,” Frevola said.