ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) — The Shaker and Saratoga Springs boys soccer teams proved Tuesday night why they’re two of the premier programs in New York State.
The two sides met in the Section II, Class AA championship game, and the two-seeded Blue Bison, ranked seventh in the state, upset the top-seeded Blue Streaks, ranked second statewide, 4-3 in an overtime thriller that might just have been the most exciting game of sectionals this season.
Saratoga junior forward Ryan Farr certainly did his part in trying to move the Blue Streaks on to regionals, recording all three of his team’s goals. But his efforts weren’t enough to overcome a widespread Shaker offensive attack in which four different Bison’s found the back of the net.
Farr got his team on the scoreboard first in the 12th minute, maneuvering right into Shaker’s box, and putting away a shot to give Saratoga the early, 1-0 edge.
But Shaker would respond minutes later when senior midfielder Lesedi Sekhobo hammered a shot from deep, knotting the game back up at 1-1.
The score would remain tied going into halftime, and the offenses ramped up their production in the second half.
Blue Bison sophomore forward Kofi Sarfoh scored on a header in the 58th minute to claim Shaker the 2-1 advantage.
Senior forward Brendan Degan would add to that lead nine minutes later. Despite being tackled by Saratoga’s Riley Fowler, Degan managed to get a shot off that slipped by goalkeeper Luke Henderson, extending Shaker’s lead to two goals.
Farr refused to let his team go down quietly, though. He scored twice in the final nine minutes of action to not only earn himself a hat trick, but extended the game into overtime at 3-3.
But after Saratoga’s Archie Fowler committed a foul on Degan inside the Blue Streaks’ penalty box, Shaker’s Ben Halek was set up with penalty kick to clinch the Blue Bison a section title, and he delivered top shelf, securing the 4-3 overtime victory.
After the game, Shaker head coach Dan Fountain explained what it took from his team to not only overcome an early deficit, but persevere in overtime despite losing a two-goal lead.
“There’s three things you need to win,” said Fountain. “You need first belief. Then, second you need to work. And three, you need some grit, ’cause you’re always going to get some adversity. And I’m so proud of these kids…they blew a two-goal lead – and credit Saratoga; they played amazing – but they didn’t collapse. They didn’t go away. They came back and they won in overtime.”
That’s all Fountain could get out before his team doused him with a water cooler bath, and the ensuing celebration perfectly encapsulating the emotion of such a hard-fought victory.
Shaker advances to regionals Saturday, and will battle Cicero-North Syracuse out of Section III.