By: Aidan Joly
A fatal overtime error led to the ending of a season.
The Bethlehem Eagles defeated the Saratoga Blue Streaks in the boy’s Class AA semifinals on Friday night at Colonie High School by a final of 1-0 in overtime.
After the 80 minutes of regulation, the teams were deadlocked at zeroes. The game would need to be decided by overtime, the second straight overtime game for Saratoga.
Five minutes and two seconds into the extra period, a foul was committed by Saratoga, resulting in a penalty kick for Kevin Piccolino. As he kicked it, the ball went right while Saratoga goalkeeper Hunter Choy went left. The ball found the back of the net, giving the Eagles the victory and a bid to the sectional final.
“I usually just try to wait for (the goalie) to commit and send it the other way,” Piccolino said. “We’ve been working a lot on PKs in practice. I’m pretty confident about it, usually know where to go.”
Both teams had chances throughout the first 80 minutes of the match including four shots on goal taken by Saratoga in the first half alone. They added two more in the second half, both from Simon Smith. The first one went a few feet above the net, and on the second, Bethlehem goalkeeper Ryan Henning made a diving save to keep it from going into the net. Smith finished the night with three of Saratoga’s six shots. However, none of them went in, contributing to Henning’s shutout.
“All season we’ve been a great team who gets good wins but doesn’t score a lot of goals. We’ve been working on getting a higher sense of urgency, an elevated level of intensity as far as finishing when we get in their zone,” Saratoga head coach Jake Zanetti said.
However, the Bethlehem offense, who earned themselves the one seed in Class AA, couldn’t get anything going on the offensive side of the ball.
“We tried different things, we tried different personnel, different places, we tried to play to the weak side first. They (Saratoga) were good,” Bethlehem head coach Phil Ridgway said.
Bethlehem had a few chances in regulation to score, but none of them worked as they had three shots on goal in the first 80, and just one was on target and had to be saved.
However, just one shot needs to be on target to win the match, and that’s what happened with the penalty kick in overtime.
“They were shutting us down from the midfield to the forwards. Finally got them down and started switching on the field more and were able to bring them in,” Piccolino said.
This loss ends Saratoga’s season much earlier than anticipated as they were ranked as high as number two in the state early in the season only to wind up as the four seed and fall before the sectional final.
As for Bethlehem, they advance to the sectional final as the number one seed. They will face second-seeded Shenendehowa in the final who beat Guilderland in the first leg of the semifinals. The final will be played at Colonie High School on Monday, October 31, with a kickoff time of 5 p.m.