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.