Girls' soccer preview: Burchhardt focal point of BH-BL offense
What do you get for the coach who has everything?
How about a ninth straight Class A championship?
The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ soccer team would like nothing more than to keep Brian Bold’s record perfect in Section II postseason play.
And they have a very good chance of accomplishing that goal with standout striker Morgan Burchhardt leading what should be a productive offensive attack.
“Morgan’s got to be a beast. She’s a senior, and she’s got to find a way to take games over,” said Bold of the Saint Rose-bound Burchhardt. “That’s her job now.
“She’s had a lot of success, now she’s got to put the game on her shoulders. She’s going to be marked tough every game, but she’s got to find a way to be dangerous.”
Bold needs to replace his midfield, and is looking for junior Meghan Malone, Kylie Babcock and possibly Jenna Retell for those spots.
“I’d love to leave Meghan up top, but we may need her energy in the midfield,” Bold said. “Wherever we put her, we’re going to need her moving 1,000 miles an hour.”
Michaela Hitt gives the Lady Spartans a steady veteran in the back.
Burchhardt is also taking on the responsibility of captaincy, as the most experienced senior on the team.
“It’s the last season and the end of one chapter of my life, but I don’t want to get there yet,” she said. “I want the season to go as long as possible.
“I have personal goals I’m trying to accomplish, but I also want to get the team together and focused.”
Guilderland grabbed the large-school championship, and advanced to the state semis last fall.
“We’ve got six starters back, and we’ll be fairly strong up the middle,” said Lady Dutch coach Curtis Snyder, who returns central defender Emily Center, twin sisters Lauren and Rebecca Kogelmann and defender Brittany Pullium from last year’s starting 11.
“The numbers in the program are good, and then we just need to see how things play out.”
Perennial playoff teams Niskayuna and Shenendehowa should battle for the North Division title in the Suburban Council, and both should be contenders for the “AA” title.
Both are experienced, talented and deep.
“I had more kids try out for JV and varsity than I’ve had in years,” said Niskayuna coach Bryce Colby. “I had 50, I usually get 45 or 46. I had some difficult decisions.”
The returning Lady Warriors include four-year players striker Meghan Doyle (20 goals in 2012) and midfielder Maddie Karafanda.
“We’ve got a very good senior class, with very good leaders,” Colby said. “We’ve got two four-year players in Doyle and Karafanda, and Olivia Golden came up at the end of her freshman year. We’ve got to find someone to run up front with Meghan.”
Shenendehowa has an added weapon this season — size.
“It’s a luxury we haven’t had in a few years,” said Lady Plainsmen coach Holli Mulholland. “It’s nice to have some size. We should be much better in the air, winning the 50-50 balls, winning corner kicks.”
Shenendehowa’s returning cast includes Makayla Foley in goal, Lauren Bausch and Sara Nassr Elgrgawi in back, Paige Byrne and Meghan Merritt in the midfield and Jaclyn Romano and Sophia DiNinni up front.
“We’ve got skilled players all over the field,” Mulholland said.
Schalmont has enjoyed two straight trips to the states, including a Class B championship in 2011. Gone from that group are eight key players and coach Angelo Caschera.
New head coach Alaina Lange has a young, but talented, group.
“We only have four seniors, and two of them are goalies. We are sophomore-strong,” said Lange, who has been a varsity assistant and JV coach.
“They know me, they know what to expect from me, they know how I want them to play,” she said. “There’s a lot of things Angelo did really well to get them to being a state champion. I don’t have to change much.”
Senior Maddie Saccocio will be the Lady Sabres’ most important player.
“Maddie takes charge on the field. Maddie is going to be the voice of the team. She’ll be our go-to player,” said Lange, who also plans on using underclassmen Hailee Metzold and Julia Rossi in the midfield.
“We should be strong at midfield, and get some offense going through them,” said Lange, who is excited about the scoring ability of eighth-grader Molly Older.
“We should be good in the midfield. The young players are looking good, they just have to adapt to varsity,” said Saccocio, who played on a national championship team during the summer.
“I had a great summer. I got to play with and against a lot of great players.”
Mechanicville got to the Class C final, losing to eventual state champ Hoosick Falls, last season.
Goalkeeper Kim Thompson is one of only three seniors on the roster. Courtney Pingelski, Sara Erno, Keara LaFountain and Madison Gowett are the other key returning players.
Scotia-Glenville and Broadalbin-Perth were part of a four-way tie for the Foothills Council championship in 2012, and both teams reached sectional championship games.
The Lady Tartans took a huge hit from graduation, leaving coach Lise Williams with only five seniors.
“I’ve got two players new to the sport, one track athlete,” she said. “There’s some dynamic in these two [senior and junior] grades, We have nine returning players with varying degrees of experience — three seniors, three juniors and three sophomores.”
Broadalbin-Perth returns all-league player Katie Herba, goalie Rachel Orapello and forward Kylie Gifford from last year’s Class B finalist team.
Canajoharie should be in the top of the Western Athletic Conference picture, with most of a lineup back from a team that went 14-0-0 in league play before a stunning early exit in the Class C tourney.
Galway’s Erika Chase, Middleburgh’s Amanda Roney, Macie Holmes of Mekeel Christian Academy, Mayfield’s Mary Ryan, Skyler
Viveros of Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville and Delaney Martin of Berne-Knox-Westerlo are among the other top returning players in the WAC.