SCHENECTADY The Niskayuna girls soccer team must get used to playing games on artificial turf if it wants to win the state Class AA title.
The state tournament in Cortland is played on artificial turf, as are the regionals and the Section II Class AA semifinals and finals.
Therefore, it was to the Silver Warriors’ benefit that they played the state’s No. 3-ranked Class A side, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, on Union College’s artificial turf soccer field Monday – a game they won 1-0.
Each side had trouble generating shots in the flow of play, as many of the quality scoring chances came off direct kicks and corner kicks. Niskayuna’s lone goal came midway through the second half when Anka Parzych sent a lead pass to Meghan Doyle, who shot the ball past BH-BL goaltender Florie Comley.
“It was a perfectly paced pass and a great touch,” said Niskayuna coach Bryce Colby. “It was one of the few plays for either team that went through the flow of play.”
BH-BL (10-4-0) was Niskayuna’s biggest challenge the first time the two teams played on Sept. 11 – a game the Silver Warriors (14-0-0) won 3-2. Adding artificial turf into the equation for Monday’s rematch made for a tougher challenge for both sides.
“Both teams were struggling to build a rhythm and connect passes because of the artificial turf,” said Colby. “It’s so fast that it’s easy for the ball to get away.”
Goaltender Kristen Hartlage stopped six shots to pick up her fifth shutout for Niskayuna, the state’s top-ranked Class AA team. Comley had nine saves for BH-BL.
“Both goaltenders played really well, but a lot of what they had to deal with was set pieces,” said Colby.
Colby said his players will have to get used to playing on artificial turf if they hope to bring Niskayuna its first state title since the 1990s.
“We have more work to do because we’re going to be playing on this surface a lot,” said Colby.
Niskayuna has two games remaining in the Suburban Council season before it can focus on winning the Section II title. The Silver Warriors host Saratoga Springs (8-5-1) Thursday and travel to Shaker (7-7-0) Monday.