POTSDAM — The Malone boys varsity soccer season came to a close on Wednesday, as the Huskies lost their NYSPHSAA opening-round Class A playoff game 5-1 to the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Spartans in a state regional match at Potsdam High School.
The Huskies struck first, scoring the game’s opening goal with 13:33 left in the first half, but that go-ahead marker may have sparked the Spartans, as they countered with a quick two-goal outburst inside the final 1:39 of the half and lift the Section 2 champs to a 2-1 lead at the break.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (11-5-4) connected for three unanswered markers during the second half to secure the win and advance to Saturday’s regional final at Colonie High School against Section 3 champion Jamesville-DeWitt.
“The two quick goals they scored at the end of the first half really knocked us down mentally,” said Malone coach Chris Yaw. “It’s hard on teams from here (Section 10) when we don’t get to see that level of competition more often; a team with incredible speed and attacking of the ball combined with a full team of guys that can control the ball as well or better than my top three or four.”
Yaw pointed out that he had to have his charges adjust their type of play for the Section 2 champs.
“We knew we had to start in a bit more of a defensive posture while filling the wide middle of the pitch. So, we went with a 4-5-1 alignment and moved Hans (Schumacher) a little further back closer to our goal,” Yaw explained. “The move does leave our striker on a bit of an island and somewhat limits our attack. But we did get a goal that way.”
Schumacher was key in the Huskies’ strike, as he gained possession of the sphere deep inside the Malone defensive zone and raced pace the Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa midfield to open space. The Malone junior sent a lead feed up the gut to classmate Trent King, who turned, maneuvered past a pair of Spartan defenders and drove well inside the 18-yard box and fired a cross corner shot past Spartan goalie Sean Speck (4 saves). It was the Huskies’ first shot on frame of the contest.
The Malone lead withstood multiple Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake attacks, as goalie Zach Barkman (10 saves) came up with several big stops to keep the Section 2 champs off the board.
But with time running out of the first half, the Spartans struck, and struck quickly as Owen Muller put a pair of shots past Barkman to spark the Spartans.
Jack Casey gained possession of the ball on the left wing and quickly slid a pass over to Muller, who drove the ball into the goal from 10 yards out. The Spartans quickly stole the ensuing touch and rushed up the pitch with Muller finishing it off with another low shot past a diving attempt by Barkman.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake nearly added to its lead with 11 seconds left in the half, taking a direct kick from 25 yards out with a head-ball attempt glancing off the outside of the near post.
In the second half, the Huskies attempted to maintain their defensive structure and keep the Spartans at bay, but they adjusted their offensive attack, a change that led to three more tallies and a state-playoff victory. Jaegur Derose, Park Scott and Jack Wells connected on second-half goals for the Spartans.
“After going down 3-1 early in the second half, we were allowing them to collapse us too much, so I tried to give them a little more to deal with by going to a three-back line and added a second forward up top,” the Malone coach added. “It gave us a few more opportunities, but it did open us up at the back end some. But, that’s the trade-off. I could second guess decisions all night, but it won’t change anything.”
Malone concludes its 2019 fall soccer season with a 12-6 record, a Northern Athletic Conference Central Division title and a Section 10 Class A crown.
The Panthers dropped their Class C state regional game to Section 7 champion Ausable Valley.
The Patriots (13-6) scored twice in the first half and built a three-goal lead early in the second half en route to the state-game victory, ending Brushton-Moira’s season at 13-5-1.
Ausable Valley freshman Lilley Keyser took part in two of the three Patriot tallies, setting up the game’s initial goal by Jenna Stanley, then connected on AV’s final goal midway through the second half. Sandwiched in between was an unassisted strike by freshman Kate Knapp, who made a steal deep inside the Brushton-Moira end of the field and booted home a one-timer to stake the Patriots to a 2-0 halftime lead.
“It was a really good game, and Ausable is a good team,” said Brushton-Moira coach Chuck Phippen. “They are technical, fast and well coached.
“But I truly feel that our girls represented the school, community and the section very well despite the loss,” continued the Panthers’ veteran sideline mentor. “Sometimes a team can play well and come up short, and that’s what happened to us tonight.
“These girls are sad and emotional right now, but they have a lot to be proud about. Someday they will look back and reflect on this and realize just what they have accomplished,” said Phippen.
The Panthers didn’t fold after falling behind by three goals and finally got on the board with just over 21 minutes left in regulation.
BMC junior Megan Ashley send a lead pass to eighth-grader Kyla Phelan, who drove past a pair of Ausable Valley defenders and booted a left-footed shot into the short corner from the top of the 18-yard box. That was the only strike that eluded Patriots’ goalie Koree Stillwell, who handled the other two Brushton-Moira shots on frame.