Defending champs shut out Shen

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Controlling the ball off her chest is Guilderland’s Breanne Ford, who possessed the ball several times during the Dutch’s 1-to-0 win at Shenendehowa on Tuesday. Guilderland (10-1), the defending Class AA champion, gave Shenendehowa (8-1-1) its first loss of the season; the Dutch control its destiny in the Suburban Council.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Physicality: The Guilderland girls’ soccer team has the best record in the Suburban Council after Tuesday’s 1-to-0 win over previously unbeaten Shenendehowa; the Dutch prevailed on a penalty kick by Emily Center. Here, Guilderland’s Ashley Cohen, right, battles with Emma Smith during the game. The Dutch have had seven straight shutouts.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Fancy footwork: In a two-frame view of a defensive maneuver, Guilderland’s Brittney Pulliam, right, takes the ball away from Shenendehowa’s Jaclyn Romano on Tuesday (see next photo)…

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

…Turning up field to pass the ball to a Dutch teammate. Guilderland won the contest, 1 to 0, and the team’s defense hasn’t allowed a goal in seven straight games.

CLIFTON PARK — Not allowing a goal since Sept. 13, the Guilderland girls’ soccer team brought its impenetrable defense to Shenendehowa. Continuing its shutout streak, the Dutch kept Shen scoreless.

It was a clash of the two best teams in the Suburban Council, and Guilderland, in the midst of its Class AA title defense, rose to the occasion. Shen attacked with random flurries, but the Dutch kept kicking the ball away from danger.

Carli Weinberg and Taylor Dorado, who have been splitting goalkeeper duties all season for Guilderland, held strong on Tuesday. Shen, previously undefeated, became the seventh straight opponent to be shut out by the Dutch.

Rebecca Golderman, who played the entire game, said that Guilderland (10-1) keeps getting better. “We’re fighting for a sectional title,” she said after the 1-to-0 win. “We knew this was big, so we were pumped to play.”

With 10 minutes left in regulation play, Katherine Benson made a run towards the goal for Shen. She hit a crisp, high shot, but Dorado was able to punch it over the crossbar.

Dorado said she was thinking if she didn’t save it, her team would be in trouble. “I was just trying to focus on the shot, that’s all,” she said. “I thought she [Benson] might cross it, but she put her foot up, so I got set.”

After Dorado’s huge save on Benson’s shot, Shenendehowa had a few more chances in the final minutes. On one floating cross into the box, Dorado missed the ball, but Mackenzie Lozano was there to clear it away.

“They were running us ragged,” Guilderland Head Coach Curtis Snyder said of Shen. “That first loss is always tough, so I would hate to be the next team that they play; they’ll be fired up.”

Guilderland’s winning goal, 13 minutes into the second half, came off a penalty kick by Emily Center. On the second of two corner kicks for the Dutch, the referee came running in, blowing his whistle. He called a push on Shen keeper, Makala Foley, awarding Guilderland the penalty kick.

Foley was none too pleased, voicing her disgust with the call. Snyder said that he didn’t see the push; sunlight was in his eyes.

“That referee, he was pretty sure about the call, so it must have been blatant,” said Snyder. “My players said that they were getting pushed, and Emma [Oliver] said that she always gets pushed on corner kicks.”

It was an ambitious foul call in a tight, important game. Guilderland will take it, especially on the road.

What makes Guilderland’s defense so hard to penetrate?

“I don’t know, but we talk to each other a lot, and we all mesh well,” Dorado said. “We’re all used to how each other can play.”

“Communication is key,” added Golderman, pointing out the presence of Center, who tells teammates where to go and who to mark. “We’re just talking a lot more and making adjustments,” said Golderman. “We change to whatever is thrown at us.”

The Dutch have plenty of experienced players from last year, but also some new players who have been thrown into the mix. “Now, the girls know their roles, know what has to be done,” Snyder said. “They know when to cover and when to pressure.”

Guilderland plays smart, reading every angle.

With two capable goalies, the Dutch are better off.

“It’s only fair to split their minutes, and it’s working,” Snyder said. “We’ll stick with it.”

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