MECHANICVILLE — With one last emphatic win against an area opponent, the Stillwater girls’ soccer team sent itself back into the state tournament it came up a victory shy of winning last year.
That experience from a year ago still sticks with the Warriors — but in a good way.
“We’re always taking it one game at a time because we’ve been there before,” Stillwater junior Brooke Pickett said. “We know how it feels to lose.”
Stillwater breezed through its final step to making it back to the state tournament, as the Warriors scored five first-half goals in their 6-0 win against Schoharie in the Section II Class C championship game at Mechanicville High School. Pickett scored two goals, as did sophomores Teya Staie and Devon Wagner in the Warriors’ successful area championship defense.
“We always try to come out strong and we try to stay strong throughout the game,” Stillwater coach Christine Ihnatolya said, “and we did that very well today."
Coach always tells us it’s a 0-0 game,” Wagner said of her team’s mindset.
Quickly, though, Wednesday’s game was not a 0-0 game. Stillwater scored twice in the first six minutes of play on goals from Pickett and Staie, and again in the 14th minute on a score from Wagner. Another Staie score came in the 25th minute, while Pickett added a breakaway goal in the 37th minute to send the Warriors into halftime up 5-0.
Wagner scored Stillwater’s second-half goal in the 68th minute.
On the season, Pickett has scored more than 40 goals. A balanced attack, though, is what the Warriors have built this season around their top star.
“I think that’s what’s so special about our team,” Ihnatolya said. “It’s not just Brooke that can score. It’s a lot of girls that rise above when we need them.”
“Everyone’s contributing,” Pickett said after her 15th multiple-goal game of the season. “So it’s not just a one-person effort. It’s all of us together.”
That proved to be too much to overcome for a Schoharie team that concluded another great season with Wednesday’s loss. Schoharie (No. 3, 15-4-0) was the state’s sixth-ranked team heading into its matchup with top-ranked Stillwater (No. 1, 19-0-1), which now advances to play Saturday at Mechanicville High School against Section VII’s Ausable Valley in the state quarterfinals.
Before Schoharie and Stillwater played their championship game, Fort Ann won 3-0 against New Lebanon in the Section II Class D championship game.
A year ago, Stillwater advanced to the state championship game, but fell in that one 3-2 to Allegany-Limestone. That painful end has helped motivate this year’s Warriors.
“And all the hard work has paid off so far,” Ihnatolya said.
The next chance for that to continue happening comes Saturday against Ausable Valley.
That game has the Warriors’ undivided attention.
“So, hopefully, we win that and keep moving forward,” Pickett said.
“We still have to just play one game at a time,” Ihnatolya said.