SARATOGA SPRINGS– It was a tale of two halves between two state-ranked teams, and the home team came through to win as Saratoga varsity soccer beat Shenendehowa on Thursday afternoon by a score of 2-1.
Heading into the second half trailing, Saratoga was ready to make a comeback. It happened as Aidan Rice tied the game less than eight minutes into the second half on a goal that ricocheted off both posts and bounded into the net.
“I guess I was at the right place at the right time. Two deflections and it kind of ended up at my feet, but I was lucky enough to get the shot off, I didn’t really expect it to hit the goalposts and go in,” Rice said.
“I didn’t celebrate until I saw it in the back of the net. Because I knew once it hit the first post, more than likely it was going to go out,” Saratoga head coach Jeff Geller said.
Sure enough, Rice played hero again. With 6:32 to play, he got another shot into the back of the net to give the Blue Streaks their first lead of the day and one they did not give way in their defeat of the fifth-ranked team in the state.
“In the first half, (Shen) was winning the physical battle. In the second half, we turned up physically and that’s where the tide kind of turned,” Geller said.
Shen grabbed the first lead of the afternoon late in the first half, as Reggie Durden scored with 1:51 left in the first frame on their fourth shot on goal. Shen took five shots on goal overall, including a free kick from Eric Makhatadze that sailed just left in the final seconds of the game. Saratoga took five shots as well.
“We didn’t match their intensity. They brought it in the second half and we didn’t. We gave the ball away too many times when we didn’t need to,” Shenendehowa head coach Jonathan Bain said.
Shenendehowa took three shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the match, setting the tone early. After that, the game was more of the Blue Streaks’ to lose as they looked a step above the Plainsmen for the remainder of the game.
This win gives Saratoga the top record in the Suburban Council, sitting now at 11-1-1 and in the driver’s seat for sectionals. They will play again on Tuesday, October 10, taking on Columbia on the road. That game will start at 4:15 p.m.
“Definitely, getting a quality victory like today is good for us, we’re trying to get the best record we can to earn the highest seeding,” Geller said.
Shenendehowa is now 10-2-1 on the year. They are also back in action Tuesday, at home against Bethlehem. That one is set for a start time for 7 p.m.