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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 21, 2010

After another hard battle, Sabres hold off Blackbirds

By Jordan J. Michael

ROTTERDAM –– Voorheesville and Schalmont usually fight for first place in the Colonial Council every fall. Each soccer match between the Blackbirds and the Sabres –– two every season –– is a battle. Sparks continued to fly on Tuesday at Schalmont.

The Birds were the first team to knock off the Sabres in 2010 with a 2-to-1 victory at home on Oct. 1. After that loss, Schalmont stumbled –– tying Lansingburgh, and losing to both Ichabod Crane and Mechanicville.

The Sabres’ struggles of late gave Voorheesville an opportunity to claim first place in Divison I of the Colonial Council. However, Schalmont reversed the score of the last meeting and left with a 2-to-1 win.

There’s a fierce rivalry between the two because each side consistently does well. “The history keeps building with every game,” said Voorheesville Head Coach Willie Sanchez. “It’s always close. Each team is good and we’re both trying to win the league.”

On Tuesday, Schalmont came out ready, and automatically attacked the Blackbirds’ defense.

Voorheesville goalkeeper Joe Keenan was forced to make a diving save to his right in the 15th minute off a long shot by Gino Rossi. Minutes later, Chris Bubb split the Birds’ defense inside the box and ripped a scorching shot that nearly missed to the right.

“They always come out hard,” Zach Jones said of the Sabres after the game. “We’ve had some luck against them recently after always losing to them before. Emotions usually fly.”

In the 31st minute, Schalmont was awarded a free kick in the box to Keenan’s left after a foul by Kevin Clark. Zac Saccocio set up the strike and placed it perfectly, high to the far post, for the goal. It was a shot that no goalie could have saved.

Four minutes later, the Sabres made it 2 to 0 off a rebound goal by A.J. Metzold, who was near the goal, awaiting a nice cross by Dom Pavoldi. Keenan did a full out dive to try and intercept Pavoldi’s cross, but missed, and lay on the turf while Metzold buried the rebound.

“It was a bad decision to dive,” Keenan said of the eventual game-winner.

“Schalmont played a better first half,” Sanchez said. “I think we came out flat. We have to be ready.”

Voorheesville got back into the game with under a minute left in the first half when Chris Dimmitt blasted a rocket shot from 30 yards out. Dimmitt was left uncovered and Schalmont goalie Steve Oliveira clearly wasn’t ready.

Coming up

The Blackbirds were eager to get the equalizer in the second half. The Sabres’ defense was on guard and turned away plenty of chances.

“Our scoring chances started coming up in the second half,” said Sanchez. “But, we were already in a hole at that point.”

J.D. Springer received the ball right at his feet in front of the goal, but couldn’t get a clean shot off before Oliveira knocked the ball out. Then, Hayden Wood controlled the ball in the box, but couldn’t get a clear shot for Voorheesville.

“That’s just how soccer goes sometimes,” said Jones. “Opportunities come and you don’t find the net. We just have to keep our heads up and move on.”

The Blackbirds continued to fight for a goal with the game winding down under 10 minutes.

David Suozzo hit a decent cross on goal, but none of his teammates were there. Then, Suozzo served a great ball into the box off a restart and the ball bounced off a couple of the Birds’ feet. Jones’s try from 18 yards went over the crossbar.

“Their defense was strong, but our offense was picking out holes and breaking them down,” Keenan said.

Sanchez told The Enterprise that these strenuous games against Schalmont get Voorheesville ready for another run through the Class C sectionals, which it won last year. “We’ll get over it and refocus,” he said.

The Blackbirds are 8-2-2 with three regular season games remaining, all on the road, at Albany Academy, Cohoes, and Cobleskill.

“We always sense tension on and off the field,” Keenan said of contests against the Sabres. “It’s always a big game and I don’t really know why.”

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