SCHUYLERVILLE, N.Y. — Schuylerville senior Kaitlyn Gunter was a thorn in the side of the Hoosick Falls field hockey team during Sunday's Section II, Class C championship.
Gunter scored two goals in the first 15 minutes of the game to give the Black Horses a lead, then added the hat trick with four minutes to go in a 3-1 win over the Panthers.
"Falls has a history of winning, a successful program," said Schuylerville coach Erin Lloyd. "They have talented hockey players, I told them to play our game and not worry about them. Our team of 11 play cohesive and together, using everyone on the field."
Gunter scored just 4:25 into the contest, putting the ball in the cage past Hoosick keeper Cassie Sherman for a 1-0 lead.
Then 10 minutes later, Gunter doubled the lead on a scramble in front, putting the unbeaten Hoosick Falls group in a very unfamiliar position.
"We've never been in that situation before," said Hoosick Falls coach Denise Campbell. "They didn't completely hang their heads and give up. They battled back. We had plenty of opportunities, but we couldn't finish."
At halftime, the Panthers wanted to quicken the pace to make up the two-goal deficit.
"We were trying to add more communication and pressure a little more," said defender Abby Gilson. "We had to stay confident, we still had a whole half left."
In the second half, Hoosick picked it up, showing as they have all season that they are a second-half team.
The pressure paid off with 20 minutes to go, when Lizza Ryan blasted home her 32nd goal of the year, taking control off a corner and firing it past Schuylerville keeper Hunter Van Arnum to cut the deficit to 2-1.
"At that point, we wanted to get another corner and score quick [to tie the game]," Gilson said. "But they're low [on defense] and they move together to cut off our passing. They're strong."
Schuylerville took a timeout shortly after the goal, where Lloyd reminded her players that the game wasn't over.
"I told them it was like it was 0-0," Lloyd said. "We started getting timid and not going to the ball, so they had to get to the ball before them and do what we needed to do."
Pushing up in to the offensive zone on transitions, Schuylerville sealed it with just under four minutes to go when Gunter set up at the far post and poked in her third goal of the day.
"I think they were a little taken back by their speed, they're a very aggressive team," Campbell said. "I think we were a little intimidated by that."
Hoosick Falls finishes the season at 18-1, a terrific season by all accounts, but disappointing in a way for Campbell.
"The kids set some records this year, but that sectional title means more than individual accomplishments or team records," Campbell said. "It's about winning the championship and we fell a little short. It's unfortunate that we have to end it this way this soon."
Schuylerville, 19-0, will face Cazenovia in the state regionals next week.