Castleton, NY — After a scoreless first half, the Maple Hill boys varsity soccer team punched their ticket to the Section II Class C semifinals Sunday, in a two-nil win over the No.8 seeded Mechanicville Red Raiders.
Ten minutes and 31 seconds into the second half Maple Hill junior Bryan Kern put one in the net, giving the wildcats a much needed 1-0 lead with time ticking away. “It’s always nice to come up big in sectionals. It’s do or die,” Kern said.
“He might not score often, but when he does it just gets us all going. We controlled the game from there,” added senior co-captain Garrett Axtmann.
Axtmann delivered his own ESPN moment just over 5 minutes later. The fourth-year varsity player received the ball in the box from junior Bryce Arno and followed it up with an out of this world bicycle kick, closing the box on Mechanicville’s season. “It feels great to put one in like that in my last ever game on this field, But if it wasn’t for my teammates it wouldn’t have happened,” said Axtmann.
“You can’t teach that kinda stuff,” said Axtmann’s head coach Dan Gillespie.
For the second most winningest coach in state history, this was just another in a long list sectional victories. “In the game of soccer, it’s not always the best team that wins. We survived some close calls in the first half and with those two goals there, we got it done.”
Gillespie, Axtmann, Kern and the rest of the Wildcats will now take on their North Country foe, Lake George in the semifinals on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. The game is being played at a neutral site, Schuylerville High School.
While Maple Hill enters as the top seed and the No.2 ranked team in the state, the Warriors of Lake George come in as the No.4 seed and ranked 19th in the latest state poll.
The last time these two schools met it was Lake George who came out on top, before going on to win the state title in 2013gone
Historically speaking, Lake George has a history of ending the season for Maple Hill teams across all sports. Since that 2013 meeting Lake George has gone 6-0 against squads from Maple Hill. However, in 2012, the Maple Hill boys soccer team routed Lake George before falling to Hoosick falls in the sectional finals. A year after the Wildcats made it all the way to the state championship game. Given that history, you can expect Tuesday’s game to be a good one.