Girls' soccer: Spartans shake off stubborn Scotties (with photo gallery)
BURNT HILLS Demi Feder would like Ballston Spa to be where Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is in the realm of Suburban Council girls’ soccer.
“I think we played better today, I think we played a pretty good game,” said the five-year varsity player after her team fell to 0-7-0 with a 1-0 loss to the seven-time defending Class A champion on Monday. “We don’t have the tradition and the attitude that a team like Burnt Hills does.
“We don’t have the same kind of feeder system that the other teams in the league have. It takes us a little time to get used to each other on varsity, but I think a game like this will help.”
The Lady Scotties played a defense-first style against Burnt Hills, trying to disrupt the Lady Spartans’ passing, and if that failed, limit the Lady Spartans’ chances.
Morgan Burchhardt finally broke through for Burnt Hills, chipping a shot over freshman goalkeeper Abbey Mensler 10 minutes into the second half. Burnt Hills had two other shots carom off the crossbar, and another hit the post.
“It was one of those things where, would you rather be lucky or good,” said Burnt Hills coach Brian Bold. “I don’t ever put games on that, but we hit the bar, their keeper made some good saves. If a couple of those early ones go in, it could have been different.
“Ballston Spa came after us. They put pressure on us. My conversation with the girls as halftime was, ‘Don’t panic. Stay the course, put the ball on the floor and a goal will come.’ ”
With her team scoring only one goal this season, Ballston Spa coach Betsy Drambour is trying to implement a system that gives the Lady Scotties a better chance to stay in games while the players adjust both to each other and the style of play.
“We changed the system up a little,” said Drambour. “We did that against Bethlehem in the second half [of a 3-1 loss], and we played well against them in the second half. And we have a bunch of kids who are fighters. We kept it close.
“We had a couple of opportunities today, but they’re loaded all over the field. They have the players up front and in midfield, but also players coming up from the back. It’s hard to contain all of them.”
Burnt Hills opened 1-3-0 playing four of the better teams in the SC in Saratoga Springs, Shaker, Niskayuna and Bethlehem, giving up 11 goals. Bold brought juniors Michaela Hitt and Jenna Retell in from the flanks to team up in the middle of the defense.
“I honestly thought it wouldn’t take as long as it did to sort everything out, to find out the who and where. But we have,” said Bold. “I moved Jenna and Michaela inside, and they’ve done an outstanding job,”
“I think we’re playing better,” said Hitt, the lone returning starting defender from last year’s team. “We’re communicating and playing better together.”
“It just took us a little while to get going,” said Burnt Hills central midfielder Skye Kaler. “We were in games, but we’d hit the crossbar, or be offside. Things like that that would hurt us.
“We’re playing better. Everyone has settled in.”
Mensler, a freshman transfer from Saratoga Central Catholic, made 22 saves to help the Scotties stay in the game.
“She’s a basketball player, and she’s got athletic ability,” said Drambour, who said Mensler told her she had not played goal for three years. “She’s done a pretty good job, considering he’s only played about three games.”
Bold wants to see his team finish its chances as it begins a stretch of four games in seven days with a contest at Shenendehowa on Thursday.
“The part that frustrates me is that we’ve got to finish,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to compose ourselves and put our chances away.”