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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 23, 2008

BKW boys’ soccer plays at high level, moves to sectional quarterfinals

By Jordan J. Michael

BERNE –– The Bulldogs boys’ soccer team went into its first sectional game with a six game losing streak. The recent past has been officially erased.

“The end of the season might have been a little rough,” said BKW Head Coach Jim Gillis. “Sectionals are a whole different story though. My guys knew the season was over if we lost.”

The Bulldogs, the number-eight seed in Class CC, took down number-nine-seeded Cambridge at home on Wednesday, 2 to 0. The team earned the right to play top-seeded Lake George on Friday.

BKW was not fooled by the Cambridge attack, giving it very little room to make big plays. The Bulldogs won almost every ball and showed no lack of momentum.

“We were totally fired up out there, having fun and everything,” said Senior Drew Rossback. “We have 11 seniors on this team that don’t want their career to end just yet.”

On the first day of sectional competition for Section 2, BKW looked like a rejuvenated team from the get-go. The team had speed, ball control, and high emotion.

“This is the best we’ve played all year,” Gillis said. “We had no idea what Cambridge would bring. What they did bring, we handled well.”

The first half started out slowly, with the ball hanging around the middle of the field for the most part. The Bulldogs and Cambridge were feeling each other out.

BKW had called up five players from the junior-varsity team, giving it a depth advantage over Cambridge, who had low numbers and only four seniors on the team.

The Bulldogs’ Ryan LaBelle had the game’s first real scoring opportunity when he airmailed a throw-in to the goal. Cambridge’s Nick Brainerd punched it out in a panic. LaBelle made fabulous throws all game long that his opponents clearly couldn’t handle.

Cambridge would make a huge mistake in the 21st minute. Alan Degraaf touched the ball with his hand in the box, giving BKW a penalty kick chance. It was a big break for the Bulldogs and LaBelle had no issues putting the ball in for a one-goal lead.

“We’ve struggled with penalty kicks this year so I decided to have someone else give it a try,” said Gillis. “I picked LaBelle and he nailed it.”

Jordan Gonyea, a call-up from junior varsity, made a quick impact on the BKW team. He had a violent collision with Brainerd after a beautiful ball by Patrick Stanton. Brainerd was shaken up on the play, but managed to walk it off.

“Gonyea had a great game; he changed the complexion of the team,” Gillis said. “God either blesses you with speed or he doesn’t.” He blessed Gonyea.

The Bulldogs’ pressure was at full force as the first half wound down. It ultimately climaxed when Sean O’Connell blasted a shot from 22 yards with 20 seconds left that nearly missed. O’Connell ran off the field in disbelief. BKW had a 1 to 0 lead at halftime.

“We played hard and had nothing to lose,” said LaBelle.

The Bulldogs’ keeper, Greg Hannay, had another excellent game with five saves, including a goal saver that was off Wyatt Wesner’s foot in the 49th minute.

Cambridge’s offense seemed to be lost as the teams exchanged throw-ins up and down the sideline.

Cambridge’s offense woke up after a corner kick by Jacob Goldstone. The kick hit a Cambridge body and rolled past the net. Cambridge didn’t have enough.

BKW put the game away during the 71st minute on a give and go between Dillon Bishop and Rossback, who placed the ball in the upper left corner of the goal. “I was happy to see us get a ‘real’ goal in,” joked Hannay.

“That one really hurt,” said Cambridge Coach James Ingber, from the sideline.

The Bulldogs won, 2-0, storming the field when the buzzer sounded.

Gillis told his players before the game that scoring goals is the only way a team can win. “We put the ball in the net twice, which is rare,” he said afterwards.

BKW has relied mostly on its defense this year and that defense showed true colors against Cambridge. “We didn’t wander with the ball and kept pressure off Hannay,” Gillis said.

The Bulldogs go to Lake George on Friday for the Quarterfinals at 3 p.m. The Warriors went undefeated in league play and scored 82 goals on the year. Gillis says that his team needs to bring it to Lake George early to have a chance.

“I’m pleased that we’re playing good soccer,” said Gillis. “A team never wants to embarrass themselves in sectionals.”

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