Nov 11, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Jamesville-DeWitt’s girls soccer team achieved a lot of milestones on its way to a first-ever Section III Class A championship.
What it had not done was go through the singular tension of a penalty-kick shoot-out — at least until Tuesday’s Class A regional playoff game against Section II champion Burnt Hills at Stillwater High School, north of Albany.
When pushed into the shoot-out, the Red Rams kept up right until the end — but two errant attempts allowed the Spartans to prevail, 4-3, and end J-D’s season.
In terms of experience, Burnt Hills had a decided edge going into the game. It was in the state playoffs for the fifth year in a row, a stark contrast to the Rams, who were making its debut in this setting.
When a team makes a road trip like this, the early portion of the game can be crucial, as it’s more difficult to find a good pace and rhythm after spending a long period of time sitting on a bus.
Perhaps that hurt J-D because, 7:37 into the game, Burnt Hills seized a 1-0 lead when freshman Jillian Beatty scored off a feed from sophomore Jessica Lyden.
This was part of a first half where the Rams found itself in a defensive mode most of the time. Natalie Mannion, Katie Heil, Rene Keller, Ashriel West and the rest of J-D’s back line kept the Spartans from adding to its margin, and goalie Sarah Gianni stayed quite busy, on her way to 11 saves.
All this defense paid off when, in the 36th minute, Tara Prosak used her strong leg to lift a long shot past Burnt Hills goalie Emily McNutt into the net, tying it 1-1.
And there it would stay through the rest of the regulation. Like Burnt Hills, J-D has an attack led by youthful forwards in sophomore Tessa Devereaux and freshman Jessica Holmes, but neither of them could solve the Spartan defense, even in a flurry early in the second half when the Rams had its best chance to move in front.
Through the entire second half, plus 30 minutes of overtime, it stayed 1-1, which set up the shoot-out, where each side would get five penalty kicks.
J-D had the first shot in each round. Devereaux, along with Tori Nies and Emily Nuss, converted, but the Rams also had a shot go over the net.
Burnt Hills converted all four of its shots. Even though Gianni got a piece of the ball in each of the last three attempts, they still went into the net — and when J-D’s fifth shot flew over the net, the Spartans had prevailed.
The Red Rams finished the most successful season in the program’s history at 17-2-1. Gianni, West, Prosak, Heil, Nies and Mannion depart, but J-D could easily repeat in 2010 with the likes of Holmes, Keller, Nuss, Tessa Devereaux, Maddy Devereaux and Emily Elbers coming back.