TROY, N.Y. -- Even after two Class C championships, the Hoosick Falls Central School girls soccer team heard the rumblings.
They couldn't win it again - they were moving up to Class B.
Leave it to the Panthers to prove everyone wrong.
No. 1 Hoosick Falls scored three first-half goals and clamped down on defense in the second en route to a 3-0 win in the Section II, Class B championship over No. 2 Greenville on Thursday at Lansingburgh High School.
"We had a couple of good years in [Class] C, and now we're the smallest B in Section II, and one of the smallest in the state," said Hoosick Falls (17-2) coach Tom Husser. "To come out and play with the bigger schools this was one of the goals at the beginning of the year and I think we accomplished it."
The Panthers were aggressive off the opening whistle, and earned three corners in a row in the first few minutes. On the last one, senior Mackenzie Hinchliffe soared the ball into the box where it deflected off a Greenville's player leg and into the net just over seven minutes in.
"We tried to come out on fire and put the ball on the net and we did that," Husser said. "We tried to put them back on their heels and I think it worked."
The score was Hinchliffe's 22nd of the season, tying her for the team lead.
"We've scored on a corner kick every game for the past five games," Husser said. "[Rachel] Pine is dangerous in the air, Hinchliffe's corners are unbelievable, it went right into the back post."
As the rain intensified, Jordan Haynes nearly made it 2-0 after racing past a Spartans defender into a 1-vs-1 with Greenville goaltender Julianna Rauf, but the junior came out to make a point blank save on the shot.
The Panthers weren't to be denied on this night, however. On yet another rush into the offensive zone, Haynes played the ball deftly around her defender and found Dana O'Malley streaking in on net to double the advantage with 12 minutes left in the first half. The score was O'Malley's seventh of the season.
"We knew it would be tougher, especially with the conditions being bad, anything could have happened," said Haynes. "I thought the rain would pass, but we dealt with it."
With six minutes left in the first half, Haynes scored her team-leading 23rd goal of the season, snagging a perfectly placed through ball and slipping it past Rauf's fruitless dive.
Increasing rain and wind made the second half a defensive struggle as both teams fought to gain footing. The Panthers were relentless, nearly scoring on another set piece at one juncture
Moments later, Hoosick Falls got the ball to the lip of the goal but the Spartans defenders knocked it away at the final second.
"We just needed to have one more goal than they did, we just wanted to move on," Husser said.
A last-ditch effort for the Spartans to get on the scoreboard went begging when forward Carly Johnson hit the post late, allowing Hoosick Falls goalie Hannah Fricke to pounce on the loose ball.
In three sectional games, the Panthers have only allowed one goal this season - and over the last two postseasons have only allowed two.
"We get to sectionals and don't allow a lot of goals," Husser said. "[Hannah] is an unbelievable keeper. It's not a fluke, she's a good one."
The Panthers move on to the B/BB playoff on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., also at Lansingburgh. They'll face an unbeaten Schalmont, who topped Catholic Central 4-1 in the BB final on Thursday.
"People didn't think we were going to do it this year, it's amazing that we even got here," said senior defender Hannah Lilac.
"It's going to be nerve-wracking, but we'll play our hardest [on Saturday]," Haynes said.