Nov 03, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
No one involved with the Baldwinsville girls soccer team figured that, when it won a Section III and state championship in 2002, that it would take six long years to earn a banner again.
But after a long string of near-misses with talented teams that lacked just that extra bit of magic, the Bees finally are champions again, this after beating Christian Brothers Academy 2-1 in last Friday night’s Class AA final at Chittenango High School.
Led by a determined group of 11 seniors, the Bees withstood all the challenges because, said head coach Kathy Morse, they put team goals ahead of individual accomplishment and blended well together, too.
“These kids have great chemistry and they know what they wanted,” said Morse.
One of those seniors, Jen Fabian, agreed. “We just put our minds to our goal, then put our whole hearts into it, and it paid off,” she said.
To get what it wanted, the Bees put together an early-game flurry to take charge against CBA, then relied on a first-rate defense to do the rest.
Attacking at the start, B’ville forced CBA into a defensive mode. This paid off when, 6:48 into the game, freshman Jackie Firenze hit a low cross to the middle — and junior Quincey Spagnoletti put the shot home.
Less than two minutes later, it was 2-0, as Nicole Close took the ball out of a scramble in front of the net and hit a hard shot past CBA goalkeeper Ashley Walsh.
Poised to turn the final into a rout, the Bees instead began to cool down. It even suffered a rare defensive lapse when, in the 20th minute, Alexis Koval took a long pass from Taylor Gait and, from the right side, beat Casey Chiesa to put the Brothers on the board.
From that point onward, the Bees would have all kinds of chances to build back its margin. But they kept getting thwarted as Walsh, authoring one of the best games of her varsity career, picked up 15 saves.
Meanwhile, the Bees’ back line tightened up. Katie Gildemeyer, Jessica Bond and Katie VanDevalk anchored a defense that closed up the lanes for CBA’s quick forwards. Chiesa also had to make seven saves, including a rush well outside her net to make a tough stop on a charging Koval in the 64th minute to keep her team in front.
B’ville did not take a smooth path to the finals. In fact, the conditions during last Wednesday’s AA semifinal at Nottingham High School against no. 4 seed Liverpool made the game a memorable ordeal that the Bees were glad to escape as it eliminated the Warriors 1-0.
By the time they took the field at Nottingham, a rare October snowstorm had turned the field slick and slow at the same time. Running at full speed became close to impossible, and a sharp west wind didn’t help matters, either.
The Bees were quite motivated, though, for it was Liverpool that knocked them out in last year’s AA semifinals, and B’ville wanted payback, even if it had to ski to do so.
Amid this rare glimpse of winter, the Bees struggled throughout the first half, even though the wind was at its backs. Snow continued to fall, and the frustration grew, especially in the 20th minute when Liverpool goalie Noel Peck stopped Fabian’s low shot with a diving save.
Moving into the wind for the second half, the Bees tried to keep the ball low. It benefited a bit when the snow let up so that visibility improved and the passing got better, too.
Defenders like VanDevalk, Bond and Gildemeyer kept Liverpool from getting many open looks, and Casey Chiesa made six saves.
Still, the game looked to be headed for overtime in a 0-0 stalemate. But with 1:48 left, Peck slipped on the snowy surface coming out to challenge the ball on the right side, and Amanda Wolgemuth shot it over head and found the net, the game-winner, as it turned out.
Following its win in the AA final, the Bees got to work for Saturday’s AA regional final at Chittenango against the Section II (Albany area) champions, to be played at Chittenango Saturday afternoon. The winner advances to next weekend’s state final four in the Cortland/Homer area.