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Bethlehem sees South Division lead shrink

Colonie closes in as Eagles tie twice

— The Bethlehem boys soccer team’s lead in the Suburban Council South Division shrank last week after the Eagles posted a pair of ties.

While Bethlehem (7-0-3, 13.5 points) played Niskayuna and Shaker to draws, Colonie (8-3-0, 12 points) extended its winning streak to five games by beating Ballston Spa and Shaker.

Colonie’s two cross-divisional wins were good for four standings points, which catapulted the Garnet Raiders ahead of Guilderland (6-2-3, 11.5 points) and into contention.

“Colonie is playing well and Guilderland is playing well, but we’ll be OK as soon as we get our chemistry back,” said Bethlehem coach Phil Ridgway.

Bethlehem’s chemistry has been strained lately as injuries struck several starters including Ethan Gunty. The senior forward returned in last Thursday’s 1-1 tie against Shaker as did fellow senior striker Zach Rockmore, who sat out most of the season while recovering from a hip injury. Still, the Eagles have been struggling to score goals.

“Our chemistry is a bit off, and the way we’re possessing the ball has changed a bit,” said Ridgway. “We’re not as patient as we had been. I’ve lost eight players to injuries, so I’ve thrown some other players into the mix … and they haven’t been as patient with the ball.”

Ridgway said as he gets more of his starters into the mix again, Bethlehem’s offense should return to form.

“It’s going to take some time, but we’ve been playing patient in practice lately,” said Ridgway.

After visiting Averill Park Tuesday, the Eagles face a two-game stretch against their closest divisional challengers. They travel to Guilderland Thursday and then host Colonie next Tuesday. Bethlehm played Guilderland to a 1-1 tie in the season opener Sept. 9 in Delmar.

“We’ve just got to keep playing patient and do our best,” said Ridgway. “I’m just trying to get them ready for Sectionals [in two weeks].”

Guilderland hosted Columbia Tuesday.

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