Spartans in a familiar spot
STILLWATER One of these years, some team will rise up and deny Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake the chance to play in a girls’ soccer sectional finals.
Not this year.
The Lady Spartans still have a ninth straight Class A title within reach, defeating Scotia-Glenville, 2-0, Tuesday in the semfinals that ran their streak to 15 straight appearances in a championship game.
Brian Bold’s team will play Cobleskill-Richmondville back here at 7 p.m. Friday. The Lady Bulldogs got past Queensbury in the penalty-kick tiebreaker after 110 minutes of play resulted in a 3-3 tie.
The win marked the fifth straight year that Burnt Hills has ended Scotia’s season in the playoff, four times in the semis and in last year’s final.
Two great individual efforts by senior striker Morgan Burchhardt accounted for the scoring, and Burnt Hills held the Lady Tartans without a shot in the second half.
“I’ll say it every year, There’s a Route 50 rivalry. There’s a rivary from when they were in the Suburban [Council] years ago. There’s the familiarity of the programs,” said Bold. “I always know that Scotia is going to play us tough, and tonight wasn’t any different.”
“Every time we play Scotia, they just really play us tough,” said senior midfielder Jenna Retell, who, along with twin sister Julia, transferred to Burnt Hills from Lansingburgh during the spring of their sophomore year. “We struggle a little, but we find a way.”
Scotia nearly got out of the first half even, but Burchhardt showed a striker’s creativity when she got to a loose ball at the top of the box, and as she was falling away, lifted a volley over the head of Scotia goalie Carina Moran with 9:50 left in the half.
“That’s the thing about a kid like Morgan,” Bold said. “They doubled her, and did a great job with her, but if you give a kid like her space, she’s going to kill you.”
Burchhardt hustled to keep a ball in play along the goal line to set up the second goal, then turned the ball back across the goalmouth, where recent JV callup Ashley Capron was waiting to knock the pass home.
“I told her that she could do it,” said Burchhardt. “We needed one goal, and she did it. She got into the right position and got to my cross and finished it.”
Scotia coach Lise Williams had to improvise a defensive plan to watch Burchhardt and central midfielder Meghan Malone. But the injuries that forced that strategy took away any depth the Lady Tartans had,
“I’m down some players, so we’re changing things around,” said Williams, whose team finished
13-5-0. “We tried to figure who was best at trying to mark their best players. The first half, they held in there, but without a lot of substitutes, we wore down.
“We were putting out our best effort. Carina played very well. We can walk away and say we gave it our best.”
“In the first 20 minutes, I thought we played phenomenal,” Bold said, “Then we sort of lost our way a little bit at the end of the first half. I thought our second half was as clean as we could be.
“It was a good win because we played well. What we talked about what we needed to do to win, we executed it. Not only did we win, not only are we moving on, but we take pride in our defense and we had a shutout. This time of year, you want to be on all cylinders.”
“It’s definitely relieving,” said Burchhardt of her 10-7-1 team’s opportunity to extend the program’s sectional run. “I know a lot of people had doubts about us this year. But we played a great game against Niskayuna [in the final regular-season game], and we’ve been pushing hard ever since.”
The other semi featured the top two scorers in the section in Queensbury sophomore Brittany LaPlant and Cobleskill-Richmondville senior Morgan Loder. They accounted for all of the scoring as Queensbury took a 2-1 halftime lead, LaPlant running her season total to 73 goals and Loder bagging her 57th.
But the defenses clamped down on both, and neither was a factor until PKs.
Cobleskill-Richmondville coach John Quimby put Loder in goal for the tiebreaker — replacing his daughter, Marisa — and she stopped LaPlant on Queensbury’s first PK, She in turn, saw her shot stopped, but Maggie Tryon and Hannah Almy — who scored two second-half goals — converted, while Claire Hubbs had the only make for Queensbury.
The result lifted the program to its first title game since Cobleskill went to the Class C championship game in 1990, prior to the merger of the two schools.
“We’ve done it before. She’s got quick hands,” Quimby said of his pre-planned strategy of letting Loder face penalties. “Marisa made a huge save that kept us in it, but we planned to use Morgan.”
Now the 14-4-0 Lady Bulldogs have a chance to make history.
“They’re going to be excited, but we’re going to see a tough team Friday,” Quimby said.