Tuesday November 6, 2012

AUSTIN DANFORTH

Assistant Sports Editor

BOYS SOCCER

HOOSICK, N.Y. -- After the program's biggest win in two decades, Monday presented the Hoosick Falls Central School boys soccer team with a chance to reassess its goals for 2012. It's time for new ones.

"The kids are eager to see how far this thing goes," coach Mike Young said. "They're really trying to push for history. They want to be considered the best team Hoosick Falls has ever had."

The Panthers (15-5), crowned Section II champion after Saturday's taut, 1-0 double-overtime win against Maple Hill in the Class C final, get to take the first step today. Hoosick Falls heads five hours north to battle Section X champion Canton (9-4-4) at 4 p.m. in the state regional tournament.

Thanks to their heart-pumping sectional journey -- including road wins against No. 2 Galway, over Stillwater in Johnstown, and the sectional final in Colonie -- the Panthers are officially battle-tested.

"One of the hardest things to do is get out of Section II," Young said. "Once you do, you're well-prepared, you've seen just about every style of play already."

Tireless, skilled forwards Chris LaCroix and Tyler Carr have keyed the Hoosick attack, while a defense anchored around goalkeeper Noah Chani and backs like Cody Gaines, the former goalie, and Taylor Baker, who has split time as a forward and defender.

"If Taylor Baker doesn't play defense for us, we don't win the sectional title," Young said. "He just wants to win ... like a lot of guys for us, he's sacrificed and it's paid off."

GIRLS SOCCER

HOOSICK, N.Y. -- Mechanicville lost the core of its 2011 sectional finalist squad. Defending champion Hoosick Falls Central School returned nine starters.

It's not quite deja vu, but both return for a Class C championship rematch at 5 p.m. today in Stillwater.

"Two years in a row, it's kind of weird -- there are 20-plus C-teams in the section and we meet them twice," Hoosick Falls coach Tom Husser said.

Young and resilient, No. 3 Mechanicville (15-3-1) has won its last 12 games, downing Hoosic Valley, 1-0, to reach the final. The top-seeded Panthers (17-2), winners in 13 of their last 14 games, have outscored opponents 20-1 in their romp through the tournament.

One run has to end.

Hoosick, with a 9-0-1 postseason record in the last two years, edged the Red Raiders, 2-1, in overtime for the Section II title a year ago and has a wealth of experience to complement its powerful attack. Senior Grace Delurey leads with 27 goals this year while freshman Jordyn Haynes, last year's overtime hero, has 26 goals of her own.

"They've been on both sides, losing in 2009, winning last year. They know what it's like," Husser said of his squad.

Senior Mikayla Gowett (22 goals) leads the line for a young Mechanicville side replacing scoring machine Abby Maiello, who now stars for Division I St. Bonaventure. Gowett scored the lone goal against Hoosic Valley in the Raiders' semifinal win last Friday.

"[Gowett] is kind of doing it all for them," Husser said. "They're all climbing on her back."

Hoosick Falls is seeking its fifth Class C sectional crown since 2001.