HALFMOON, NY (NEWS10) — The Shaker boys soccer team simply refused to allow teams to score this year. The Blue Bison gave up just four goals all season heading into Thursday night’s Section II, Class AA semi-final game with Shenendehowa.
But the two-seeded Bison would be tested by No. 3 Shen, and were required to rally from an early 1-0 deficit before pulling out a 2-1 victory to move on to the sectional final.
The Plainsmen goal came courtesy of senior forward Lochlain Clarke in the eighth minute. Senior defender Conor Brown headed the ball to Clarke off a corner kick from senior midfielder Mark Makhatadze, and Clarke returned the favor with a header himself that found the back of the net, putting his team up 1-0.
But Shaker found its’ rhythm from there. In the 23rd minute, senior midfielder Ben Halek converted on a penalty kick opportunity to level the score at one. The game would remain tied heading into halftime.
After a back-and-forth second half, Bison senior forward Brandon Degan created a shot for himself, and tucked the ball between his defender’s legs, and inside the left post, claiming Shaker the lead at the 67-minute mark.
That goal would prove to be the game-winner, as the Bison held on for the 2-1 victory, advancing to the Class AA championship game.
A hoarse Dan Fountain, Shaker’s head coach, recalled after the game what it took for his guys to bounce back from an early deficit.
“This is a team that really relies on each other, and we’re quite gritty,” said Fountain. “When you get into sections, grit goes a long way. We know who we are, we know our shape, we know our formation, we count on the guy next to us. So, when we got down by a goal, we were disappointed, but we still held that belief that (we) would come back.”
Degan was overcome with emotion after scoring the game-winner to advance his team in sectionals.
“I dribbled up, we scored; it felt so good to be up against Shen again,” said Degan. “I have no more words to say; I’m just too excited.”
Shaker will square off against the one-seed in the class, Saratoga, in the title game Tuesday at Colonie High School. The Blue Streaks won the regular season battle 1-0. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.