GUILDERLAND CENTER – Tuesday’s Suburban Council girls soccer game between Guilderland and Troy was decided by one bounce of the ball.
With the score tied at 1-1, Guilderland’s Zoey Kmack lofted a cross in front of the Troy goal. The ball bounced over Troy goalkeeper Maddie Rifenberick and at the feet of Riley Grimm, who knocked it into the open net to give the Lady Dutch a 2-1 victory.
“I tell the girls it doesn’t matter how the ball goes in, as long as it goes in,” said Guilderland coach Curtis Snyder.
The Lady Dutch (1-0-1) dominated the time of possession and the number of shots on goal, but they had a hard time getting the ball past Rifenberick, who finished with 25 saves.
“I’m super happy with how well we played defensively today,” said Troy coach Justin Haviland.
“We had lots of chances,” said Snyder.
It took an individual effort from Margot Nezaj to get Guilderland on the scoreboard. Nezaj took the ball between the center line and the penalty box, eluded some Troy defenders and launched a shot that skipped by Rifenberick to give the Lady Dutch a 1-0 lead with 7:25 left in the first half.
“That first goal was just a great individual effort by the Guilderland player,” said Haviland.
“We needed to go into the half up because if we went into the half tied, they’d feel like they were still in the game,” said Snyder.
Undaunted, Troy came out stronger in the second half and caught Guilderland’s defense off guard. Abby Burns caught up to Gabby LaRose’s long pass near the penalty box and lofted a chip shot over goalkeeper Kiersten Becker’s head, after Becker charged in to intercept the play. The ball bounced into the open goal before two Guilderland defenders could stop it, resulting in a 1-1 tie.
“It just popped over. She had great touch on the shot,” said Snyder.
Troy nearly had a second goal later in the second half, but the play was whistled dead due to an offsides call.
“Unfortunately, that offsides call caught us. Otherwise, it would have been a tie game,” said Haviland.
As it was, Troy suffered a one-goal loss against one of the Suburban Council’s more prominent girls soccer programs – something the Flying Horses couldn’t have dreamed about three years ago when they joined the Suburban Council following the Big 10’s demise.
“Our first year in the Suburban Council, we were losing games by six, seven or eight goals five or six times a season,” said Haviland. “Gradually, those six-, seven- or eight-goal games have become one-, two- or three-goal games.”
As for Guilderland, Snyder said he was happy with getting into the win column after registering a 1-1 tie against Saratoga Springs in its season opener Aug. 30.
“That did not go according to plan, but in the end a victory is a victory,” said Snyder.
For a photo gallery from the game, click here.