November 2, 2013

Saranac wins Class B in a thriller

Monica D'Ippolito

CHAZY — It was one of the most exciting girls’ soccer games of the season, and it ended in fitting, dramatic fashion — with penalty kicks.

After 110 minutes, Saranac was able to hold off rival Beekmantown sudden-death penalty kicks to remain undefeated and capture the Section VII Class B crown.

The sectional title is the Chiefs’ first since 1995.

Saranac’s Jamie Favreau started out the shootout strong, as she knocked away the Eagles’ first shot. The Chiefs held a 4-3 advantage after four rounds of penalty kicks. Beekmantown’s Lauren O’Connor gave the Eagles life as she knocked away Saranac’s fifth shot.

Kallie Villemaire then buried her shot to send the game into sudden-death kicks.

Kaitlyn Bowman was given the first opportunity for the Chiefs in sudden-death and got one past O’Connor. Favreau then came up big again, knocking away the Eagles’ attempt and clinching the victory.

“To win a game like that feels so good, because we beat such a good team,” Saranac coach Mary LoTemplio said. “Both teams showed so much effort and competitiveness.”

Ellen Thew put the Chiefs up early in the first half, as her first goal came just over a minute in. Thew cut off a pass from a Beekmantown defender and then beat two more defenders on her way to the goal. Her second goal came at 33:05, when she received a pass from Emily Heywood and had plenty of space to place the ball in the back right corner of Beekmantown’s net.

The Eagles came surging back before halftime.

At 27:52, Courtney Wilson played a ball in the box, which Kallie Villemaire was able to get a foot on. The ball deflected off a Saranac defender and past Favreau for Beekmantown’s first goal. With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Gonyea put a beautiful cross through the Chiefs’ box that Wilson was able to finish to tie the game at 2-2.

“It’s 40 minutes of soccer; momentum shifts in that 40 minutes,” LoTemplio said. “We got a little nervous about keeping our lead, but I give them credit, they settled down and played a better game.”

The second half and overtime was all about missed opportunities for both teams. Two minutes into the second half, Beekmantown was unable to put in an open-net goal after Favreau’s initial diving stop.

In the first 10-minute overtime, Beekmantown nearly took the lead with a shot off a corner kick that deflected off the inside of the crossbar. Favreau was able to smother the loose ball and preserve the tie.

“I thought we dominated the second half on,” Beekmantown coach Peter Bursik said. “We had some good opportunities, but Saranac’s a good team.”

O’Connor made a few crucial saves herself in the second overtime, as she was able to come out and clear a few through balls from Saranac. Halfway through the second 10-minute overtime, O’Connor came out again and got a foot on a shot from a Chiefs’ striker.

The highlight save came in the second five-minute sudden-death overtime by Favreau. After making the initial diving save by getting a hand on a high shot headed in the far right corner, she came out and tripped up Villemaire. Favreau was called for a foul in the box, which resulted in a penalty kick for the Eagles. Favreau composed herself, and guessed right on the penalty kick, which gave her team new life.

“I just had to stay calm for the team,” Favreau said.

Favreau admitted after making the last-minute save, it felt almost like “destiny” that her team was going to come out of the game with the victory.

“She’s rock solid,” Saranac assistant coach Amy Hewson said. “I’ve never seen a goalie come up that big.”

The result of the save meant the two Class B powerhouses were headed to a penalty kick shootout. Favreau said she felt “relaxed and composed” heading into penalty kicks, and it showed.

“We made the right plays at the right time,” LoTemplio said. “We stuck together and helped each other.”

As for the Eagles, Bursik has high hopes for them next year.

“I’m proud of my girls, we worked hard all year,” Bursik said. “For the seniors, it’s a little disappointing, but we got a good group coming back, and hopefully we’ll be back right there next year.

“I wish Saranac good luck and hope they represent us well.”

Favreau finished the game with 17 saves, and O’Connor recorded 15 for the Eagles.

The Chiefs will try to keep their undefeated record alive as they take on the Section X champion in the first round of the state tournament.

“We played hard until the end, and so did Beekmantown,” LoTemplio said. “We’re going to enjoy the moment (Friday), and worry about our next opponent (today).”

Favreau was pleased by her team’s performance and believes the Eagles have a great shot at making a run in the state tournament.

“It feels really good,” Favreau said. “I feel like if we play like we did tonight, and the next couple weeks just keep our focus on soccer, I think we can go pretty far.”

Saranac 2, Beekmantown 2

(Saranac won 5-4 in penalty kicks)

Saranac 2 0 0 0 0 0 — 2

Beekmantown 2 0 0 0 0 0 — 2

First half- 1, Sar, Thew, 0:17. 2, Sar, Thew (Heywood), 6:55. 3, Beek, Ka. Villemaire (Wilson), 12:08. 4, Beek, Wilson (Gonyea), 29:55.

Shots: Saranac 22, Beemantown 18.

Saves: Favreau, Sar, 17. O’Connor, Beek, 15.