STILLWATER — Even after winning a girls’ soccer state title last year, winning a game against archrival Mechanicville still means something special for Stillwater.
“We know these girls,” Stillwater senior Brooke Pickett said after her team’s 5-1 win in Monday’s matchup between the neighboring schools. “We’ve known them forever. The rivalry has always been there. It’s always an amped-up game, an intense game. Emotions are always running high. So I think to play against people you know and people that you’ve grown up with, it makes it more intense. It makes you want it more.”
As is often the case when Mechanicville and Stillwater meet on the turf, hardwood or elsewhere, Monday’s matchup was an action-filled contest. Mechanicville controlled play for much of the first half and had a 1-0 lead late in the period after a goal from senior Brynn Murphy in the 37th minute, but Stillwater fired back after it fell behind.
Pickett tied the game in the 40th minute, then junior Teya Staie put Stillwater on top with a goal in the 51st. Pickett added her second goal of the game in the 55th minute and her third in the 72nd, while Staie scored her second in the 63rd.
With the victory, Stillwater’s unbeaten streak improved to 29 games. The Warriors, though, have been tested this season after rolling to a Class C state championship in 2018 with a 22-0-1 season in which it outscored opponents 129-16. Head coach Christine Ihnatolya scheduled her team to face several larger schools to start its 2019 season, and Monday’s contest was the season’s third that saw Stillwater trail at some point.
“And I’m proud of them because last year we never trailed in a single game,” Ihnatolya said. “So, for them to come back, game after game after game when they get down, it shows a lot about their maturity and their competitive mentality.”
Those early tests against Class AA and Class A schools helped along developing that toughness.
“Last year, at this time, we wouldn’t have been where we are because playing these bigger schools [has] gotten us ready,” Staie said.
Monday’s matchup was the Wasaren League opener for both Stillwater (1-0-0, 5-0-1) and Mechanicville (0-1, 1-3-0). Besides scoring a rivalry win, getting off to a good start in league play was important for a Stillwater program again expected to contend this year for Section II and state championships.
“Once they scored, we knew our backs were up against the wall, and it kind of motivated us to push and play that much harder,” said Pickett, who committed to play for the University at Albany women’s soccer program earlier this year.
After scoring 52 goals last season, Pickett has already scored 14 this season. Stillwater, though, has a number of talented players, and Pickett said she was excited Monday to see Staie provide the night’s go-ahead goal.
“It means more to me to see her score than it does for me to score, honestly,” Pickett said.
Last week, Mechanicville won 2-1 against Stillwater in a matchup of the schools’ boys’ varsity teams. Andrew Kraszewski scored both goals for Mechanicville in that rivalry game that went to overtime.
The girls’ soccer teams will meet again Oct. 19 at Mechanicville in a non-league matchup. That one will likely be played in front of another enthusiastic crowd, which was the case for Monday’s game to decide the Indian Cup at Warrior Park.
“It definitely pumps us all up,” Staie said of the night’s crowd that overflowed from the bleachers. “Makes us a little nervous, but we know that we have to win for us, for our school, for our community that always supports us.”