Spartans advance, Sabres out
STILLWATER For 110 minutes Tuesday night, Haley Schultz could only watch as her Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake teammates battled Jamesville-DeWitt to a tie in their girls’ soccer Class A regional semifinal at Stillwater High School.
But it was Schultz who ensured the Lady Spartans would advance, coming off the bench to stop the first three Red Rams’ attempts in the penalty-kick round, while her teammates made good on three of their first four.
Burnt Hills will meet Malone or Peru back here Saturday afternoon, with a spot in the state semifinals on the line.
Schalmont was not as fortunate. The Lady Sabres’ bid for a third straight trip the the Class B state final four and an unbeaten season came to an end when Marcellus scored twice in the second half for a 2-0 win.
Burnt Hills coach Brian Bold had Schultz warming up as the teams went to the first of a pair of 10-minute OTs. When that 20 minutes, and two five-minute sudden-death sessions, failed to break a 2-2 tie, he played his trump card.
“Haley Schultz is our ’keeper for PKs. She’s going to be a great ’keeper,” said Bold. “For her to come up with those saves and show the composure she had says an extreme amount about her as a young lady and an athlete.”
“When we went into sudden victory, he [Bold] told me to get warmed up. I was ready,” said Schultz, who went to her left to stop the first three J-D attempts and get her hand on a fourth. “I don’t like to guess. I just look at the ball the whole way through.”
Schultz did admit to a little bit of gamesmanship.
“I step to one side to mess with their head a little bit,” she said of the look she gives to opposing shooters as they approach the ball.
Her efforts, along with a great second-half from senior Morgan Burchhardt, rescued the 11-7-2 Lady Spartans from a first half that saw them fall behind, 1-0.
Burchhardt, who had been limited to long shots from wide of the frame in the first 40 minutes, turned her game up after the break. In the space of three minutes, she hit a perfectly placed ball home on a 30-yard free kick, then beat the defense to the end line and delivered a ball to the back post, where Meghan Malone knocked in the go-ahead goal.
“Morgan showed why she is a senior captain and an all-state player,” said Bold, whose team lost to the Red Rams at this stage last season.
Burchhardt was playing to extend her high school career for at least one more game.
“I didn’t want it to end like last year. I told them that we had 40 minutes of our season left, let’s make it count,” she said. “I’ve got goals I’ve got to accomplish before I leave here and go to Saint Rose.
“We kept fighting, bringing chances. In the overtimes, we had multiple chances.”
The Section III champions took the air out of Burnt Hills when they tied the game at 2-2.
In the PK round, Burchhardt, Malone and Jenna Retell all made good, giving Burnt Hills a 3-1 edge. Retell’s make, combined with Schultz’s efforts, ended the PKs after four shooters each,
“I don’t usually kick to the left corner,” said Retell of her clincher. “I had a bad experience once before. Redemption was the theme of our game, so I went for it.”
“We start taking PKs in September. We start working our way down to about 15 [shooters}, then when we get to postseason, we cut it down to 10,” said Bold. “We knew who was shooting.”
“We know we can do it. We have the skill,” Malone said of penalty kicks. “It’s all psychological. We just have to not psych ourselves out.”
Schalmont may not have psyched itself out, but never got its fast-paced offense going against a bigger Marcellus team.
“I don’t know if we were intimidated by their size, but I think it was just something we hadn’t seen,” said first-year head coach Alaina Lange, whose team was 20-0-0 going into the Class B regional semi. “To have to go in hard to every ball, to be knocked almost to the ground on every ball, to have to nudge and elbow your way through to fight for every ball.
“We’re a young team. We’re a small team. We’re not a physical team. That’s not generally how we play. So for them to have to play that way from the start, I don’t know if that knocked them back a little from the start, but it caused us a little longer to get into our rhythm.”
The loss of midfielder Hailee Metzold to a first-half ankle injury also cost the Lady Sabres.
“Hailee is a great player, and to lose her that early could be a game changer” Lange said. “She has a lot of poise and control in the midfield. For one of our most dominant players to go out there early really does hinder us. Other girls stepped up and held it down until that last 12 minutes, when they scored their goals. I would have loved to have her out there.”
Schalmont played only four seniors on the roster, and only two — midfielder Madeline Saccocio and goalkeeper Gabby Juers — were starters.