Bethlehem girls soccer rolls with the changes

The names may change, but the results remain the same for the Bethlehem girls soccer team.

The Lady Eagles began the season with four consecutive Suburban Council victories, outscoring their opponents 17-1 in that stretch. All the while, they've been trying to overcome the graduation of several starters from last year's Section II Class AA championship squad.

This is a big transition year for us with a number of players taking on new roles, said Bethlehem coach Tom Rogan.

The bulk of Bethlehem's offense has come from senior Kristina Maksuti and sophomore Tara Teal. Maksuti leads the Lady Eagles with six goals and three assists, while Teal has contributed five goals and an assist.

Sophomore goaltender Katie Nickles has also been a key contributor for Bethlehem " that is, when any shots have gotten to her. Nickles has saved 10 of the 11 shots she's faced, with half of those saves coming in last Thursday's 2-1 overtime victory over Shaker.

"I believe she's one of the best goalies in the area," said Rogan of Nickles, who started for Bethlehem as a freshman last year. "She's very good at coming out and stopping one-on-ones, and she does a great job catching the ball."

The Shaker game was the first time Bethlehem had been tested all season. The Lady Eagles had won their previous three games by identical 5-0 scores " all against South Division opponents (Averill Park, Mohonasen and Colonie).

Rogan said the tests will continue this week as Bethlehem faces Saratoga Springs Tuesday, Niskayuna Thursday and defending Section II Class A champion Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Saturday.

"All three teams " Niskayuna, Burnt Hills and Saratoga " are going to be good challenges for us," said Rogan.

If Bethlehem falters this week, Guilderland is hoping to be there to catch the Lady Eagles in the South Division standings. The Lady Dutch (3-1) won their first three games before losing to Saratoga 1-0 last Thursday.

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