UTICA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Adirondack United – Sec. II’s first, and only high school girls hockey team – accomplished the unthinkable in its’ inaugural season. But the United’s storybook run to the New York State Final Four ended Saturday afternoon in the state championship game with a 2-1 loss to Sec. III’s Clinton.

Adirondack head coach Jeff Willis said after the team’s sectional title victory back on Feb. 9 that, coming into the season, he hoped the team could earn at least one victory. They achieved that in the season opener back on Nov. 23, and proceeded to win another 18 games. Four of those wins came in the postseason – the United outscored their opponents 30-2 in those games – en route to earning a spot in the state title game at the Nexus Center in Utica.

On top of the sterling 19 total victories Adirondack amassed, the team lost just one game all season. However, that lone defeat came against Clinton on Jan. 2, and the Warriors once again had the United’s number Saturday. Despite taking a one-goal lead in the first period, and outshooting Clinton 25-9, Adirondack simply could not crack the scoreboard enough against the Warriors’ sophomore goalie, Casey Clausen.

The lone time the United broke through against Clausen was on a power-play just past the five-minute mark in the opening period. Lillian Willis maneuvered around her defender, and stuck a wrist-shot top shelf, giving Adirondack the early, 1-0 advantage.

But just over 90 seconds later, Clinton’s Mackinley Ronan launched a shot from just inside the point that crossed up Adirondack’s junior goalie, Ava Reynolds, and found the back of the net to tie the game up at 1.

The game would remain tied until deep into the third period. The United had a prime opportunity to reclaim the lead with just over 7:35 remaining. From behind Clinton’s goal, freshman Gianna Marcantonio delivered a pass to the front of the crease for Willis. Her shot was deflected by Clausen, and the puck leaked out to Bayley Duffy, who had a one-on-one with Clausen in the slot. But the sophomore netminder came up with a glove save to keep things knotted up at one.

Then, with less than 90 seconds to play, a pair of Warriors came charging down the ice into Adirondack’s defensive zone. Katherine Elbrecht delivered a well-placed, cross-ice pass between two United skaters, and Drew Kopek buried a shot from the right face-off circle to claim Clinton a 2-1 edge at the 1:21 mark.

Adirondack pulled Reynolds from goal in a last-ditch effort to create some late offense. Eighth grader Emily Macaulay managed to get a shot on goal with seconds to play, but once again, Clausen came away with a denial in the cage, and the clock ran out for the United. Clausen made 24 saves for the Warriors, leading them to the 2-1 victory, and the state championship.

After the game, Willis relayed the message he gave his team in the locker room after such an emotional defeat.

“We have to think about our successes,” said Willis. “This was a first-year program. We made a lot of history this year. Everything but the…the one thing we wanted at the tail-end. But, we’re young. And I expect that we’ll be back next year. It’s not gonna stop the hurt and the burn right now that they’re feeling, but…eventually, we’ll get back on the ice; and we’ll get working towards a state championship.”

As Willis alluded to, the United will return 87% of its’ roster next year after graduating just four seniors.

Adirondack ends the season with a remarkable, 19-2 record, and claimed the program’s first-ever Sec. VII title.