Monday, November 1, 2010

Ballston Spa blitzes Troy High boys soccer, 3-1

Ballston Spa High School soccer player mob Kevin Marin (13) after his go-ahead goal just minutes into Monday's Section II Class AA quarterfinal playoff game. Marin added another tally in the second half in the Scotties' 3-1 victory. (Photos by Mike McMahon - The Record).

TROY — The Troy High School boys soccer team had done a tremendous job all season of keeping the sheet clean – preventing other teams from scoring – but Ballston Spa didn’t play Monday’s Section II Class AA quarterfinal by the Flying Horses’ script.

Ballston Spa’s Connor Preece scored on a rebound shot in the game’s first minute. Troy’s Will Valle countered with an equalizing goal one minute after that, but Ballston Spa’s Kevin Marin answered in the next minute in a thrilling offensive outburst to open the game.

Marin scored again early in the second half to complete the Scotties’ 3-1 victory at Troy High School.
Ballston Spa (9-5-4), the Suburban Council’s No. 4 seed, advances to a Section II Class AA semifinal against either Bethlehem or Shenendehowa (those teams played Monday - a score has yet to be reported) Thursday at South Colonie High School. Game time is 7 p.m.

“We came into this game as a win-win,” said Brandon Wilson, at left, Troy’s senior striker and captain. “We won the Big 10 and we won our first sectional game. We knew Ballston Spa is a great team and I play with a couple of kids on that team (in the high school offseason). We looked out and came to give them a fight. All we hope is that we earned their respect.”

Troy (15-1-1), the Big 10 Conference regular season champion and No. 1 seed, outscored opponents 52-6 this season, posting 13 shutouts in the process. The team won its first league title in 16 seasons and won its first postseason game since 1988 by defeating Columbia in a penalty kick shootout last Thursday.

Monday, Ballston Spa’s mix of physical power and speed buried the Flying Horses early.

Troy High's Wayne Russel attempts to kick a shot past Ballston Spa goalkeeper Evan Mendez in Monday's Section II Class AA playoff game in Troy.

From the opening kick, Ballston Spa marched toward the Troy net. Bobby Strang stopped the Scotties’ initial shot, and Ballston Spa hit the crossbar in the ensuing chaos before Precce sunk the first goal into the net.

Troy was not down for long, as Valle blasted a right-footed shot past Ballston Spa’s Evan Mendez to tie the game. Marin, however, headed in Ballston Spa’s second goal just a few minutes after Valle’s tally, which was all the Scotties would need to advance.

Ballston Spa's Evan Mendez makes a save as Troy High's Brandon Wilson (9), Shafi Kabir (10) and Wayne Russell (right) leap for header attempts in Monday's Class AA quarterfinal playoff game.

“They have a full roster of 11 guys out there that are fast and have great touch and good skill,” said Troy head coach Mike Murnane. “ They play in a league of fairly evenly-matched teams throughout.”

Strang finished with 13 saves. Mendez made three and did not have to stop a single shot in the second half.

Brandon Wilson, who has verbally committed to play at Siena College next fall, was aware of what the Flying Horses would be up against in Ballston Spa because of the top-notch travel soccer he plays in the high school offseason.

Ballston Spa's Connor Preece celebrates a goal in the first minute of Monday's game with teammate Sean Maruscsak at Troy High School.

“It’s more physical. The speed of play picks up a lot and they go to the ball harder,” he said. “It’s hard, and I’m not downing any of the other Big 10 teams, but it’s hard with our strength of schedule to come in to a first or second-round game and pick it up when they’re playing top-ranked teams all year.”

Troy played just one non-league game all season, defeating Class C’s No. 1 seed, Waterford-Halfmoon, 1-0. Still, that was a far cry form what the teams in the Suburban Council face every single game all season long.

Ballston Spa's Ethan Beaudoin (22) and Troy's Graeme Corrigan chase after a loose ball in Monday's playoff game.

Murnane hopes the memory of the 2010 season inspires success in the program for years to come.

“Hopefully this puts a good spark in the youth in Troy and it gains some interest and sticks around a while,” he said. “I have a two-and-a-half year old who’s going to be going to the district, so I have a while before I’m going anywhere.”

Ballston Spa (9-5-4) 2 1 — 3
Troy (15-1-1) 1 0 —1
Scoring: BS: Marin 2-0, Precce 1-1, Bortoloni 0-1, Johnson 0-1. T: Valle 1-0.
Goalie saves: BS: Mendez, 3. T: Strang, 13.
Corner kicks: BS: 12. T: 5.

Ballston Spa's Kevin Marin, seen here in front of Troy's Graeme Corrigan, scored two goals in Monday's 3-1 victory for the Scotties.


Troy's Brandon Wilson (left) leaps for a header with Ballston Spa's Connor Preece (9) and Lucas Audi (8) during Monday's Class AA quarterfinal game at Troy High.
  • Notes: Troy allowed as many goals in this game - three - as it had allowed in its previous 16 games, 13 of which were shutouts. Troy opened the season with 11 straight shutouts, allowed one goal in each of its final regular season games and played Columbia to a 0-0 double overtime draw in the opening round of the playoffs before winning in a penalty kick shootout.
  • Brandon Dory made a great save just before halftime, which kept Troy's deficit at 2-1.
  • Ballston Spa's James Cowie hit the crossbar midway through the second half.
  • I asked Troy High head coach Mike Murnane about what it's like to coach against the Suburban Council in the postseason, especially when teams are limited to 16 regular season games by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. There are some solutions - playing a classification-based schedule like the football teams do - but it looks like the Suburban/Big 10 breakdown in the Class AA brackets will continue in the future.
  • "As far as classification play, absolutely. It would make any of the questions about seeding and whose league is better than whose, it would eliminate that," Murnane said. "It would be based on the competition you faced during the year, not figuratively who has the stronger schedule and who should be protected and who not. We’re not starting a revolution here, but it would be nice to see some change. Basically, what’s the best thing for the soccer players in the AAs?"
  • "The purists would probably like to keep the leagues," continued Murnane. "I’m sure the Suburban is very happy because when you’re on top and things are going your way, change isn’t what you’re looking for. Us guys in the Big 10, us, Albany, La Salle, for sure, and CBA has had some great teams that have made runs, the top teams in the Big 10, it does hurt to not face competition throughout. Not to take anything away from our league, but there are down years and there are years with parity. The years where there have been parity, you see where teams come out with more from the regular season."
  • Brandon Wilson will be playing his college soccer at Siena, which has both the Saints and the Flying Horses excited.
  • "I see the heart and skill in the JV. I’ll be around," Wilson said. "I’m going to school close around here, so I’ll be around and helping them out a little bit."
  • "It’s great that he’s staying local," Murnane said. "I know next year we’ll be taking a bus over to watch a couple of Siena games, for sure. I’ve known Brandon, I remember when he was in fifth grade, talking to his PE teacher about him. I used to play soccer at RPI with him when he was in sixth and seventh grade, got to know him. same with his brother Sean, and Shafi (Kabir). It’s been a long relationship built up with those guys and we keep moving them along and keep the franchise growing." 
Troy High senior Brandon Wilson (9) battles with Ballston Spa's James Cowie during Monday's Section II Class AA quarterfinal clash.

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