SCOTIA — Lucy Crounse provided most of the offense for the Scotia-Glenville soccer team Wednesday night when its senior cast was honored.
One of those 12th-graders, Annika Nielsen, provided the inspiration in what ended up a 5-0 Foothills Council win over Amsterdam at Hitchcock Field.
"We wanted to win for her," Crounse, a sophomore, said after subbing in for Nielsen and scoring three goals. "She's our captain."
Nielsen hadn't played all season due to a torn ACL in her left knee that she sustained while playing lacrosse last spring. She started Wednesday's contest and played a handful of minutes, and started the second half and played a few more before exiting.
"When she came off, the stands went crazy," Crounse said.
"Everybody was so excited for her," Scotia-Glenville coach Lise Williams added.
Nielsen was excited to be out there, albeit only for a short time.
"Today is six months from surgery. I had it done April 9," the four-year varsity team member said. "It felt awesome. It's tough sitting on the bench watching your teammates play without you. It was good to get on the field. I think it got everyone excited to play at a high level and with a lot of intensity."
Nielsen helped Scotia-Glenville win the Section II Class A championship her sophomore year, and was a key contributor last fall when the Tartans' bid for a repeat ended with a quarterfinal loss to Ballston Spa on penalty kicks.
"She scored lots of goals for us," Williams said. "Last year, she was a first team [league] all-star. It hurts not to have her."
Williams likely won't have her again.
"It's up to her doctor," Williams said. "She got cleared to play this game, but they were talking about eight months. She wants to have a college career, and they want her to heal completely."
Crounse said part of Wednesday's game plan was to set up Nielsen so she could get a goal. Nielsen played a midfield position in the first half, and Williams moved her to a forward spot in the second half to better her chance of doing so.
"We wanted her to score," Crounse said.
Nielsen's best chance came five minutes into the first half, but her drive was stopped by Amsterdam goalie Karen Troche-Esteva, who totaled 20 saves in a busy evening of work.
"I wanted to score really badly," Nielsen said. "They tried to feed me the ball. My nerves were getting to me, and I was a little unlucky at times."
Crounse scored all three of her goals in the first half, the first one eight minutes in off an assist from senior Megan Steele. Steele got a goal of her own with two minutes left in the game.
"When coach put me out there, I was just trying to score," said Crounse, one of seven sophomores on the Scotia-Glenville roster. "I think the first one relaxed me and the team."
"She is having a great year. She has worked hard," Williams said of Crounse, who also had a goal when the Tartans beat Amsterdam 3-1 in mid-September. "When we were warming up, she said, 'I feel good, coach.'"
Sophomore Rylee O'Connor also scored a second-half goal for the South Division-champion Tartans, who improved to 10-0-1 in the league and 11-2-1 overall and are ranked No. 17 in the state among Class A teams. Scotia-Glenville has lost only to Averill Park and Red Hook, who are ranked No. 9 and 12 in the state, respectively.
"We have a lot of younger players, but we've got a lot of potential," Nielsen said before getting pictures taken with the Tartans' other six seniors. "I think this team can go really far as long as we continue to work together."