Nov 14, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
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.
“The kids never gave up and kept fighting hard,” said Morse.
For much of the half, though, John Jay’s defense remained steady, rarely letting the Bees get close — until, with five minutes left, B’ville’s long-awaited opportunity came up.
Breaking loose on the left side, Jen Fabian drew defenders toward her, then passed to the middle, where Nicole Close was waiting. Taking possession, Close had a point-blank shot at John Jay goalie Danica Robinson — but she didn’t quite get a good hit on the ball, and it trickled six inches wide left.
Though the Bees would have a few more rushes in the closing minutes, it never got as good a shot again, and John Jay advanced to Saturday’s state championship game against Fairport.
B’ville finished with a 21-2 record. At one point, it reached the no. 23 spot in an ESPN national ranking, and it set a single-season school record for wins.
Now comes a difficult transition as 11 seniors, including Chiesa, Bond, VanDevalk, Fabian, Close, Ali Nagle, Alexis Coughlin and Quincey Spagnoletti depart. It will take the great work of players like Roberts, Gildemeyer, Jackie Firenze, Emma Firenze and Megan Haney to make the Bees a title contender again in 2009.