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Girls soccer: South Division rivals meet for Class AA title

Bethlehem advances past Niskayuna on penalty kicks to meet Guilderland

Guilderland’s Jessica Capone, right, battles Shaker’s Jean Mary Chakmakas, left, for the ball during Saturday’s Section II Class AA semifinal game at Schuylerville High School.

Guilderland’s Jessica Capone, right, battles Shaker’s Jean Mary Chakmakas, left, for the ball during Saturday’s Section II Class AA semifinal game at Schuylerville High School. Robert Goo

— Bethlehem and Guilderland are the last two girls soccer teams standing in the Section II Class AA playoffs.

No. 5 Bethlehem advanced past No. 1 Niskayuna on penalty kicks in one Sectional semifinal game Saturday at Schuylerville High School, while No. 2 Guilderland edged No. 6 Shaker 1-0 in the other semifinal.

The Albany County and Suburban Council South Division rivals are slated to meet each other Wednesday at Stillwater High School for the Class AA championship.

"I imagine it will be a very good game," said Bethlehem coach Tom Rogan. "Guilderland is a very talented team."

Guilderland (14-3-1) won the South Division title for the second consecutive year, but it split its two regular season games against Bethlehem (11-4-3). The Lady Eagles edged the Lady Dutch 1-0 in their first meeting Sept. 6, but Guilderland turned the tables on Bethlehem with a 1-0 victory in the rematch Oct. 13.

"It's the South Division, it's neighboring schools and we may be seeded higher, but we feel we're the underdog," said Guilderland coach Curtis Snyder. "We feel like we're going up against a (Bethlehem) team that knows what the pressure of playing in a Sectional final is like."

Bethlehem goaltender Katie Nickles propelled her team into its fifth consecutive Class AA championship game almost by herself. The senior stopped 15 Niskayuna shots in regulation and four overtime periods to help the Lady Eagles forge a scoreless tie. Then, Nickles stopped Anka Parzych's shot in the first round of sudden victory penalty kicks to help Bethlehem prevail 5-4.

"She was the player of the game, no doubt about it," said Niskayuna coach Bryce Colby. "We missed a bunch of chances, but she also stopped a penalty kick in overtime. She was the difference in the game."

"She was great, and our whole defense was excellent," said Rogan. "We spent the week preparing to handle (leading scorers) Meghan Doyle and Anka Parzych, and our defense was up to the challenge."

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