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Bethlehem-Niskayuna rematch set in Class AA finals

Here we go again.

For the second year in a row, Bethlehem will play Niskayuna in the Class AA girls soccer final Wednesday at Broadalbin-Perth High School's artificial turf field.

Bethlehem and Niskayuna have had a recent history of playing extremely close playoff games. Their last three postseason meetings have gone into overtime including last year's Class AA final that ended with Niskayuna advancing to the regionals on penalty kicks.

I think it's going to be a close game a lot closer than the last one (a 3-0 Bethlehem win Sept. 11), said Niskayuna coach Bryce Colby. "One thing that an artificial surface does is it narrows the gap."

"We've gone to penalty kicks the last two times we've faced them (in the playoffs), so hopefully we'll win in regulation this time," said Bethlehem coach Tom Rogan.

Both teams needed overtime to advance to the Sectional final. Bethlehem (20-0-0) edged Shenendehowa 1-0 last Saturday in Glens Falls on Kaitlyn Martin's goal in the second overtime period, while Niskayuna (14-4-2) got past Shaker 3-2 in triple overtime.

"They were the seventh seed, but they were a better team than that," Colby said of Shaker (9-11-1), which brought up the rear in the hyper-tough Suburban Council North Division. "Their sophomore goaltender (Emily Johnson) was fantastic " really a big impact player for them."

Bethlehem had a hard time getting its offense going against Shen (13-6-2). The Eagles only had a handful of quality scoring chances in regulation and the first overtime period before Martin struck for her 17th goal of the season.

"They did a tremendous job on us defensively, and their goalie (Kim Elsworth) played the best I've ever seen her play," said Rogan.

Bethlehem's defense did an equally good job of shutting down Shen's attack. The Eagles allowed only one shot on goal the entire game, which Kiersten Swete easily handled.

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