The Niskayuna girls soccer team was already dealing with the challenge of playing Section V power Aquinas on a rainy Friday in central New York.
The last thing the Silver Warriors needed was an injury to one of their star players.
Yet, that's exactly what happened when senior striker Brooke Knowlton injured her ankle in the first half. Though Knowlton came back, Niskayuna was never the same and lost to Aquinas 1-0 in the state class AA semifinals at Homer High School.
She was hobbled, and she was not herself, said Niskayuna coach Bryce Colby. "It was a credit to her that she came back and tried to play."
With Knowlton no longer at full strength, Niskayuna's offense struggled to get the ball into the goal in the first half. Then, the Silver Warriors (18-3-3) struggled to get the ball into Aquinas' half of the field while playing into a strong wind in the second half.
"In terms of scoring opportunities, I'd say we were equal, even though Aquinas controlled play in the second half," said Colby. "We had two or three good chances, but we didn't put any of those chances away."
Ashley Hughes broke the scoreless tie with a 40-yard goal in the second half to propel Aquinas into the state finals.
It was the second state semifinal loss in six years for Niskayuna, but Colby admired the way his players handled adversity.
"I'm really proud of the girls," he said. "We played well enough to win. We weren't the better team that day, but mentally we were ready." ""