Voorheesville has strong start to soccer sectionals

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

The chair: Voorheesville’s Sean Nolan, left, stays close to Cohoes defender Bryan Thieu during Wednesday’s Class B first-round sectional game in Voorheesville. The Birds won, 4 to 0, and Nolan scored the second goal of the day. Voorheesville plays top-seeded Ichabod Crane on Friday at 3 p.m.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Running through the air on Wednesday is Voorheesville’s John Moreau (#25) as he tries to beat Cohoes’ Justin Charbonneau to the ball during the Class B first-round game. The Blackbirds won, 4 to 0, on goals by Devin Racey, Sean Nolan, Schuyler King, and Tommy Minnick.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Sending the ball backwards with the turn of his head is Voorheesville’s Braden Racey during Monday’s away game at Ravena, which the Blackbirds won, 3 to 0. It was the final regular-season game for Voorheesville as it headed into the Class B sectionals with a 9-5-0 record as the eighth seed. The Birds beat Cohoes in the first round on Wednesday.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Soccer or wrestling? Voorheesville and Cohoes played in the Class B playoffs on Wednesday and Voorheesville advanced to the quarterfinals by a score of 4 to 0. Here, Voorheesville’s John Moreau tangles with Cohoes’ Justin Charbonneau.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

The quick feet of Voorheesville’s Sean Nolan (#17) were trouble for the Ravena defense on Monday night as the Blackbirds spent the majority of the second half pressuring the Indians’ goal, scoring three goals for the 3-to-0 victory; Nolan scored the third goal. Voorheesville (9-5-0) scored 39 goals and allowed 14 in the Colonial Council this season as it started Class B sectionals on Wednesday.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Toe tap: The Voorheesville soccer team finished the regular season with a 9-5-0 record in the Colonial Council after a 3-to-0 win over Ravena on the road on Monday night. Here, the Birds’ Alex Fisher possesses the ball in the first half; Fisher had an assist in the game.

VOORHEESVILLE — Voorheesville’s offensive attack was too much for goalkeeper Nate Laughlin and his Cohoes defenders to handle on Wednesday in the first round of the Class B sectionals. As time went on, Cohoes wore down.

After Voorheesville’s regular season had ended on Monday with a 3-to-0 win over Ravena, Head Coach Willie Sanchez said that he felt his team peaking. As if on cue, the Blackbirds proved the coach right by playing an excellent game of soccer in a 4-to-0 win over Cohoes.

“It was really good,” said Devin Racey, who scored the first Voorheesville goal in the 35th minute of play. From 30 yards out, Racey put an unexpected shot on goal that sailed over an unprepared Laughlin.

Originally, Racey said he was going to pass the ball to Luke Gorka in the middle of the field. “His mark was over-committing, so I cut it back, and let it fly,” he said.

The Blackbirds were connecting on pass combinations and giving and going through the Cohoes defense. Just like the game at Ravena, Voorheesville was building possession through the midfield and finding Sean Nolan, who plays the forward position up top. Nolan had a goal in both games despite having defenders breathing down his neck.

“Also, we want to play off him like a target,” Sanchez said of Nolan, who plays with composure. “He’s getting pulled on, pushed, but he’s able to find guys or take them on. He does a lot up there.”

Eight minutes into the second half on Wednesday, a well-placed assist allowed Nolan to get past the defense as Laughlin came out to challenge, and Nolan flicked the ball into the empty net.

“It’s played in to me, and then I play it out the opposite way so we can move the ball,” Nolan said. “There’s a lot of defenders on my back when the ball is played to me, so I can’t see behind me. If I go the other way with it, we’ll have a better opportunity.”

On Monday, Gorka said that Voorheesville likes to wear down the opposing defense with through balls through the top. “We don’t have the quickest players in terms of speed, and we’re not going to bully our way through a team,” he said. “Our game is possession.”

Voorheesville moved the ball quickly against a lesser-skilled Cohoes team, but the Blackbirds will face top-seeded Ichabod Crane in the quarterfinals on Friday. Moving the ball even faster will be a necessity.

“There will be a lot more pressure,” Nolan said. “We can’t hold the ball as long.”

On Sept. 16, Voorheesville (10-5) lost to Ichabod Crane, 3 to 2. The Blackbirds’ four other losses this season were to Albany Academy, which is playing in Class A, and Schalmont, the second-seeded team in Class B.

“That’s the main thing,” Sanchez said, “Good teams play quickly.”

“They’re highly skilled teams,” Gorka said on Monday. “They always put out good squads, and the other teams are sometimes of a lower quality, but they still come out. We have greater success against those lower teams, but we can hang with Schalmont, Ichabod, and Academy.”

Voorheesville lost to Ichabod Crane in the Class B quarterfinals last year after a flurry of goals in the second half. The Riders went on to repeat as sectional champions.

“When you play against better skilled teams, the differences come when you make mistakes,” Sanchez said. “You’re more likely to get punished. Against lesser teams, you can get away with some of those mistakes.”

Racey told The Enterprise that Voorheesville will have a good chance at getting by Ichabod on Friday if the team stays on the same track of improvement. Nolan said that the turning point of the Birds’ season came during a 4-to-1 loss at home to Schalmont on Oct. 14.

“We realized then that we’re just as good as them,” added Nolan. “We were more motivated.”

Sectional playoffs are a time to hold nothing back, Gorka says. Voorheesville looked strong against Cohoes, which beat Ravena by nine goals.

“We’ll play just like we are now,” Nolan said. “We’ll be fine.”

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