BKW goes down in double overtime

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Dangerous play: A Schoharie player goes high in the air to get a touch on the ball while Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s Nick Nagengast tries to head the same ball during Saturday’s Class C quarterfinal match in Berne. The two rivals played an edgy double-overtime game with the Indians’ Morgan Henry notching the game-winner. The Bulldogs, Western Athletic Conference champions, finished with a 14-3-1 record.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Air fight: Berne-Knox-Westerlo and Schoharie took its Class C quarterfinal game into double overtime on Saturday; the Indians won, 2 to 1, on a great shot from Morgan Henry. Here, BKW’s Thomas Payne, right, gets a head on the ball while Will Vedder knocks into him during overtime. Before the loss, the Bulldogs were ranked 17th in the state; the team scored 44 goals and gave up only 17 in 2013.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Scoring chances were rampant for Berne-Knox-Westerlo and Schoharie during Saturday’s Class C quarterfinal. Here, Maclin Norray (#24) sends the ball towards the goal for the Bulldogs. BKW lost, 2 to 1, in double overtime.

The Enterprise –– Michael Koff

Air battle: Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s Maclin Norray, right, and Galway’s Austin Scheeren try to get their heads on the ball during the closing minutes of the Class C sectional game last Thursday in Berne, which BKW won, 2 to 1. Norray scored both goals on free kicks.

The Enterprise –– Michael Koff

Eye on the ball: During last Thursday’s opening-round Class C sectional game, Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s Trevor Haack makes one of his eight saves in the first half of the Bulldogs’ 2-to-1 victory over Galway. BKW came into the game ranked 17th in the state.

The Enterprise –– Michael Koff

Fierce battle: Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s Greg Gustafson, left, and Galway’s Tony Comissiong race down the field after the ball during the first half of Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s 2-to-1 victory at home last Thursday afternoon.

The Enterprise –– Michael Koff

Head flip: Cody Fisher of Berne-Knox-Westerlo does a fancy throw to get the ball close to the goal during the first half of Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s 2-to-1 victory over Galway last Thursday afternoon in Berne.

BERNE — After fighting for the Western Athletic Conference South title for the entire regular season, rivals Berne-Knox-Westerlo and Schoharie again ended up in a precarious position. This time, it was overtime in the playoffs, and the next goal would be the end all.

Last Saturday’s intense Class C soccer quarterfinal burned for 99 minutes until Schoharie’s Morgan Henry turned the flame into fireworks.

BKW, known for its excellent defensive line — allowing only 15 goals entering Saturday’s game — left Henry unmarked as he dribbled towards the Bulldogs’ goal in sudden-death double overtime. Henry had time to place his shot.

“You can’t do that,” BKW senior defender Jimmy McGill said of the space that Henry was allowed. “Somebody had to step, and everybody had their mark except on him. Somebody just didn’t step, but this is a sectional game.”

Henry ripped a low, hard shot across his body that curled in, hitting the side panel a foot inside the goal post. BKW keeper Trevor Haack tried to dive for the save, but it was a shot that was almost impossible to stop.

That ended the game, giving Schoharie a 2-to-1 victory over BKW.

“Basically, it was premeditated,” Henry said of his game-winning goal that sent Schoharie to the semifinals. “It was open, so I went for it.”

The Bulldogs had won the WAC South championship by two points over the Indians. Schoharie had lost to BKW the last time, on Oct. 2, but the Indians got vengeance on a huge stage.

BKW Head Coach Jim Gillis didn’t know why none of his defenders stepped up to Henry. “The kid hit a great shot, and you could see it happening,” he said. “It’s soccer.”

“Trevor [Haack] takes it pretty hard on himself, but it’s not his fault,” McGill said of the goalie.

Schoharie was seeded sixth in Class C, and BKW was seeded third. Still, the Indians were 11-2-3 coming into sectionals. “That’s a good team,” Gillis said.

The Bulldogs brought pressure on the Indians’ goal from the start last Saturday, getting three corner-kick chances early on. Cody Fisher’s flip throws and Maclin Norray’s long kicks were once again setting the tone.

One of Fisher’s acrobatic throws set up BKW’s first goal, 18 minutes into the game. The ball got kicked around in the box, finally landing at Norray’s foot; he shot the ball into the goal, at the top right corner.

BKW kept pressing as time ran down in the first half. A few close calls went wide of the goal, including a diving header by Nick Nagengast.

“I can’t ask my kids to play any harder,” Gillis said. “We dominated this game early on, but needed to jump on them a little more than we actually did.”

Schoharie started to play better in the second half, gaining more possession and going to the ball with more aggressiveness. Henry told The Enterprise that the Indians tend to start slow in games, usually picking up the pace in the second half.

“You know, that’s how it goes,” said Henry. “We get pumped up.”

Now, Schoharie was getting all of the scoring chances. Richie Martino tied the game, 1 to 1, with 12 minutes left in regulation play after his shot deflected off teammate James Sacket. Haack, who had a bead on the shot, was fooled, throwing his hands up in disbelief.

“They’re [Schoharie] down, so they’re trying to force the tempo at that point,” Gillis said. “How long do you sit back and wait? They had chances, we had chances, and we didn’t force the issue.”

With sudden-death overtime looming, tempers were pushed even further. Nagengast almost scored on a head ball for the Bulldogs, and Martino was close to scoring his second goal, somehow bending a shot in from no clear angle.

“This team is full of hard workers,” McGill said. “Everyone was busting their butts at practice, and everyone gave 100 percent today. This is hard to take.”

Nearing the end of the first 15-minute overtime period, Schoharie’s Zack Frisbee railed a hot free kick off the crossbar, which sounded like a gunshot. This left the crowd in a tizzy.

For sure, this was a game to be remembered.

Gillis said that he told his captains to walk the team across field because his players had nothing to be ashamed about. “I’m just proud of how hard they played,” he said. “I didn’t want them to walk off without their heads held high.”

Losing in sudden-death overtime stinks for any team, but BKW (14-3-1, ranked 17th in the state) will always be the 2013 WAC South champions.

Did the Bulldogs feel like it was their Class C title to lose?

“Yes, in a way,” said McGill. “We left it all on the field.”