Girls' Regional Soccer: Red Rams end Spartans' run
FULTON After three seasons of making all the right breaks against Section III’s Jamesville-DeWitt in the state girls’ soccer playoffs, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake couldn’t get a sniff of good luck Tuesday.
The Spartans did everything but knock down the Red Rams’ goal in a first-half barrage, but came up empty, and Paige Sherling buried the game’s only goal to lift J-D to a 1-0 win in a Class A state regional game.
BH-BL had bumped the Red Rams out of the postseason for three straight years, a run that Spartans coach Brian Bold thinks his team should have extended by another year.
“What are you going to do? The game can be very cruel,’’ said Bold, whose team finished 15-5. “I thought we outplayed them. I thought we were the better team.’’
That certainly would have shown on the scoreboard if not for some unfriendly posts and crossbars and the play of J-D goalie Allison Butler, who was spectacular with 15 saves.
Sherling gave Butler all the support she needed by capping off a deft series of passes — the last from teammate Alex Fontana — and drilling a low shot past
BH-BL netminder Florie Comley with 31:37 left in the first half. The bid was one of just three that the Red Rams (17-1-2) managed all night.
“I just took the shot. I didn’t even know it went in until everyone started hugging me,’’ Sherling said.
With 24:50 left in the first half, BH-BL’s Morgan Burchhardt sent a long, curving shot on goal that Butler deflected with her right hand, and the ball then kissed off the right post.
About six minutes later, the Spartans’ Skye Kaler booted a tricky ball from 30 yards out that Butler again knocked aside with her right hand. After the ball rebounded off the right post, Butler recovered in time to deny Burchhardt’s rebound attempt.
The early pressure recalled last year’s meeting between the teams, when the Spartans put home two goals within the first minute.
“I was feeling pretty lucky,’’ Red Rams coach Hayley Nies said of the turnaround Tuesday. “Thank goodness, they were hitting the post. I was just hoping to get out of that first minute.’’
BH-BL’s Meghan Malone lasered a shot from about 10 yards out off the left post with 12:38 left in the half, and with 30 seconds remaining, Burchhardt thundered a hard shot off the crossbar from about 15 yards away.
“I was just unlucky. It didn’t happen,’’ Burchhardt said. “Nothing went through. It was unfortunate.’’
At the break, Nies cautioned her young team to stop toying with the odds. She told her players they had to tighten up on their marks in the second half, and the Red Rams were far less generous with the quality scoring chances in the final 40 minutes.
The Spartans also felt suffocated by the clock, which started to act as J-D’s best defender as it ticked down to disappointment.
“We started to panic a little bit,’’ Bold said. “Some of those opportunities we created in the first half, we weren’t getting. They put us under a little more pressure.”
One final thud followed the game-ending horn, and it was a lot more definitive than ball meeting crossbar. The letdown was the sound of several Spartan players collapsing to the turf in disbelief that they had nothing to show for their domination but a long trip home.
“It was a good season. In the end, we didn’t get accomplished what we wanted to get accomplished,’’ Burchhardt said.
“Nothing I say to them will make any difference in the world,’’ Bold said. “We can’t hang our head. We had a great run.’’
Allie Gallo scored off a corner kick early in the game, and Alexandra Cardinal scored in the second half as Schalmont beat Section III champion Marcellus, 2-1, in a Class B regional semifinal.
The Lady Sabres, 21-0-0 and riding a 44-game winning streak over two seasons, advance to play Section VII champion Plattsburgh on Saturday in Section VII.