The Schalmont boys soccer team hadn't played from behind too many times during the regular season, and it came back to haunt the Sabres in Saturday's state class B semifinal.
Kyle Hoffer and John Spadaro each scored two goals to lead Section I champion Albertus Magnus to a 4-1 victory over Schalmont at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta.
We were playing with at least one goal down the whole game, which changed our whole strategy, said Schalmont coach Chris Bailey. "With 25 minutes left, I changed our alignment by moving a defender up, leaving us with three defenders instead of four. That helped us because we put a lot of pressure on their defense, and that's what got us our goal."
Hoffer's first-half goal and Spadaro's tally 14 minutes into the second half made the score 2-0 and precipitated Bailey's change. Ten minutes later, Joe Lontrato headed in a missed shot by Fabio Urbano to get Schalmont on the scoreboard.
That was the only Schalmont shot that got by Andrew Tartara. The Albertus Magnus goaltender punched away several shots to keep his team in front.
"He was very acrobatic on several saves. We had several nice shots that he stopped," said Bailey.
Hoffer tallied for the second time six minutes after Lontrato pulled Schalmont within a goal, and Spadaro scored a short time later to seal the victory.
"Working with young athletes, momentum in soccer means everything," said Bailey. "When we scored to make it 2-1, we had the momentum. But when they scored to make it 3-1, that took the wind out of our sails."
The loss ended Schalmont's most successful season in 22 years with a 22-2 record. The Sabres had a 22-1 record in 1984 " the last time they won a Section II title.
"They were very satisfied with how they played, and I was happy with how they played," said Bailey.
Schalmont graduates 13 seniors from this year's team, but Bailey is optimistic about the Rotterdam school's future.
"Our junior varsity team lost only one game this season. They went 17-1, which is amazing," he said.
As for the seniors leaving the team, Bailey said they can be proud of what they contributed to the program's history. "Those seniors can look at the banners (on the gym wall) and know they were a part of it," he said.""