Six years after it plowed to an unlikely state championship, the Baldwinsville girls soccer team brought greater expectations to the state Class AA final four -- but did not meet the same fate.
Up against John Jay-East Fishkill (Section I) in last Friday's state semifinal at SUNY-Cortland, the Bees found itself bottled up in the first half, then unleashed in the second half -- but it still resulted in a 1-0 loss to the Patriots.
B'ville head coach Kathy Morse said that, by the time teams reach this level, they have to play close to perfection to prevail, and added that the Bees did not quite so.
Much of that could be attributed to the opponent. John Jay arrived at Cortland with a 23-0 mark, having only allowed three goals all season with a sound, disciplined group of players that knew how to handle the ball on both ends.
It didn't take long for the Patriots to assume control. With a slight wind at its back in mild conditions (at least by November standards), John Jay kept the Bees on the defensive for much of the first half. Sophomore midfielder Geena Kooner led the charge as she hustled to all corners and proved difficult to contain.
In the 15th minute, a series of solid passes set up the Patriots' lone goal. Sam McGuire fed it to the middle, where Jen Mansfield's clean shot eluded B'ville goalkeeper Casey Chiesa and found the net. It was just the second goal the Bees had allowed in the entire post-season.
From there, Katie Gildemeyer, Katie VanDevalk, Lauren Roberts and Jessica Bond gradually began to clamp down, and Chiesa's aggressive work, inside and outside the crease, kept the margin at one.
And when the Bees picked up the wind advantage in the second half, it finally started to play the way it wanted to -- aggressive on both ends, gradually forcing the Patriots into a defensive mode.