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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 6, 2008

Still undefeated, Dutchmen strike down Shen for AA gold

By Jordan J. Michael

COLONIE –– Guilderland and Shenendehowa had a significant history between each other coming into the Class AA soccer final. The history dug a little deeper on Tuesday night.

Both the Dutchmen and Plainsmen boys’ soccer teams were state ranked. Both were the two top seeds in Class AA. Everyone saw this coming from the beginning and the battleground was Colonie, under the lights.

Guilderland remained undefeated thanks to the quick thinking of senior Kip Stillman who put the winning goal in with only a few minutes remaining. The final score was 3-to-2.

“I try not to think too much because that is when I screw up,” said Stillman. “I just go with the flow of the game and play how I do.”

The Dutchmen secured a spot in the finals with a 2 to 1 overtime win against Shaker on Thursday. Shaker kept Guilderland scoreless until the final two minutes. Sahr Nyuma put one in from point blank off a cross from Anthony Powers.

Guilderland came out of the gates in overtime, attacking the Shaker goal at will. With four minutes left in the overtime period, Tony Campaganano made a run up the right side and crossed it to Nyuma. He would be the hero again.

Nyuma received the pass at the top of the box with his back to the goal. He turned and fired a grounder that was out of the keepers reach. Guilderland fans stormed the field and chaos ensued. It was amazing come back soccer.

“It’s one of those feelings you can’t explain,” said Nyuma after the game. “I just happened to touch the tying goal. Nothing much to it and I was determined to get the winning goal because I was so pumped up.”

The showdown

Tuesday’s final had a standing room only crowd, but the fans seemed subdued. A Guilderland and Shenendehowa game of this magnitude leaves space for nervousness.

Dutchmen Coach Mike Kinnally knew that the Plainsmen would be ready to play and hungry to knock them off. “Their a real talented team. We squeaked by them at the beginning of the year,” he said.

The ball was trapped in the middle of the field for most of the first half. Shen had control of the possession in the beginning. Guilderland kept clearing long balls and couldn’t get any real control.

Dutchmen defender Jonathan Wheeler was fouled hard by Shen’s David Clemens and he had to leave the game. Kinnally thought the foul was unnecessary and he was “displeased” with the call. Scott McKenzie replaced Wheeler for the remainder of the game.

“I was nervous when we lost Wheeler because we always have him back there,” Kinnally said. “McKenzie did a wonderful job and I had confidence in him.”

Guilderland only had one shot in the first half and it would be a goal. Caleb Ciaschetti split the Shen defense with a pass and Nyuma beat John Mabee to the ball and tapped it home.

The rivalry was on display as the match started to get more physical. No fouls were being called as the two teams traded blows. Joe Miner had a solid chance for the Plainsmen when he rang a header off the cross bar.

Guilderland continued to be happy with kicking long balls and protecting the goal. Devin Bailey made a couple easy saves as the first half came to a close. The Dutch led, 1-0.

Shen and Guilderland wasted no time showing off its offenses at the beginning of the second half. T.J. Izykowski let loose a screamer of a shot for the Plainsmen that went just wide.

The Flying Dutchmen took a 2 to 0 lead at the five-minute mark. Travis Moore let a free kick fly from around midfield that landed in the sea of white and green in front of the goal. Nyuma got a toe on it and Campagnano chased it to the end line where he hit it with his left with no real angle. It went over Mabee’s head for the score.

Moore said he was doing his normal job by “crushing the ball” on a free kick. “The ball basically fell into my lap,” said Campagnano. “I had no angle on the shot, so I just decided to hit it as hard as a could.”

Shortly after, Shen would get on the board. Bobby Buchanan lofted one into the box and Miner touched it to Luke Popolizio for the goal. It happened quickly, 2-1 Dutch.

The Plainsmen netted another goal in the following minute on a breakdown by the Guilderland defense. Chris Curley received a pass from David Clemens and Curley’s low shot got by Bailey. The Dutchmen lead had deflated to nothing, now tied 2-2.

“A 2 to 0 lead is the worst lead to have because once the other team scores they just build on the momentum,” said Kinnally. “I give my defense a lot of credit. We only gave up 11 goals this year and nine were from free kicks.”

Bailey had a dramatic save on Miner point blank, followed by a one timer by Guilderland’s Pat Quinn that went just wide. Then, Ciaschetti flew one over the crossbar. The teams’ offenses were no longer shy.

“This was an attractive game,” Kinnally said.

With about 15 minutes left, Moore set up another free kick from midfield. The service was right on goal like last time and Ciaschetti freed the ball. Mabee pounced on it just in time for the save and the game remained tied.

The Dutchmen magic happened in the final five minutes. Both teams were trying to force in a goal to save the game from overtime. Guilderland would do just that.

Stillman had the spotlight and the ball. He dribbled confidently into the box and sent a left foot over a diving Mabee for the game winner. Guilderland secured its first AA championship since 1997, 3-2.

“I don’t even know who passed it to me, but I thank them,” said Stillman. “Winning this hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m looking forward to regionals.”

The Dutchmen play Section III champion Baldwinsville at West Genesee High School in Camillus on Friday at 7 p.m. The winner goes to the state finals in Oneonta.

“I’m so proud of these guys and were hard to beat when we play well,” Kinnally said. “Ten different players have scored for us this year and that leaves options. Sometimes we use Nyuma as a dummy to free up others.”

“Beating Shenendehowa for the title is a great feeling,” said James Quinn. “Their always seen as supreme, but now we’re the ones on top.”

“We have worked really hard to be undefeated and to get where we are,” said Campagnano. “It’s bittersweet.”

“Our goal was Section II champs, so I think I’ll be okay from now on,” said Kinnally. “I’m going to go enjoy this and have a celebratory dinner with my wonderful players.”

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