Nov 06, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
With each year, the Class A girls soccer regional playoff clashes between Jamesville-DeWitt and Burnt Hills/Ballston Lake have turned more epic.
And none went longer, or had more twists and turns, than Tuesday night’s renewal at Stillwater High School, near Saratoga Springs. For more than two hours, the Red Rams and Spartans went back and forth, trading bursts of momentum, but settling nothing.
They ended up tied, 2-2, through regulation and 30 minutes of overtime. But in penalty kicks, Burnt Hills prevailed, 3-1, and advanced in the state tournament, putting an end to J-D’s dreams of a first-ever state championship.
In each of the five years that J-D has won Section III titles, it has run into Burnt Hills in regional play. From 2009 to 2011, those games ended in defeat for the Rams, but a year ago it finally broke through against the Spartans in a 1-0 thriller that propelled J-D to the state Class A final.
Now it was Burnt Hills in the role of revenge-seeker, playing on a Stillwater turf where it had never lost in post-season play. And it was catching J-D just three days after the Rams had to go to three overtimes to subdue East Syracuse-Minoa in the Nov. 2 sectional final at SUNY-Cortland.
Right from the start, the Spartans forced the tempo, making J-D’s defense, anchored by Caroline Kopp, Maddy Frank, Maggie Austin and Julia Slisz, put in extra work to keep the game 0-0. Some big stops by goalie Allie Butler helped, too.
Their work led to a first-half shutout, and in the 33rd minute, the Rams’ counter-attack paid off when freshman Alex Catanzarite, accepting a perfectly timed pass from Paige Sherling, slipped a one-touch shot past charging Spartans goalie Erin Petrillose and into the unoccupied net.
Trying to protect that 1-0 lead, J-D kept Morgan Burchardt, Burnt Hills’ career leader in goals and assists, from numerous chances to get on the board – until the 55th minute, that is, when a 27-yard free kick from Burchardt tucked inside the top right corner of the net, out of Butler’s reach.
Sparked by that tying goal, Burnt Hills quickly followed up, going ahead 2-1 three minutes later when Burchardt, drawing defenders to her on a run down the right side, crossed to the middle, where a trio of Spartans was charging toward Butler and one of them, Meghan Malone, slipped a shot past Butler.
Somehow, J-D shook off this surge and, just two minutes after Malone scored, got back even thanks to an effective free kick by Kopp that glanced off Petrillose’s fingertips and off the crossbar – right to Catanzarite, who put home the rebound for her second goal of the night.
When regulation ended 2-2, they went to overtime. Fatigue started to show here for the Rams as it mostly went back in a defensive mode, forcing Butler to put together her most spectacular effort of the season.
Time and again, Burnt Hills got open looks to move in front. Every time, Butler stopped them, eventually working her total to 16 saves through 20 minutes of standard OT and a pair of five-minute sudden-victory periods.
Given Butler’s hot play, J-D had to feel good going into penalty kicks, especially since Burnt Hills made a switch, bringing in Haley Schultz to replace Petrillose in goal.
But it was Schultz stopping both of the Rams’ first two chances in the shoot-out, while Burchardt and Malone gave the Spartans a 2-0 edge. They both made stops in the third round, and while J-D finally converted on the fourth kick as Slisz’s shot clanged off the post into the net, Jenna Retell beat Butler to end the Rams’ season.
Disappointing as this result was, J-D is in terrific shape going into 2014. Butler and Austin depart, as does Ella DiGiovanni, but everyone else, including Sherling, Catanzarite, Slisz, Kopp, Allie Balotin, Amber Hyatt, Alex Fontana and Erin Brinley, come back next fall.