The race for the Suburban Council Blue Division girls soccer title became tighter Thursday, Sept. 20.
Saratoga Springs (3-1-2 league, 4-1-2 overall) handed Bethlehem (5-1-0, 6-1-0) its first loss of the season by beating the Lady Eagles 2-0. Meanwhile, Shenendehowa (4-1-2, 5-2-2) tied Guilderland (5-2-2, 6-2-2) to a 2-2 tie in Clifton Park.
Those four teams, along with Shaker (4-0-1, 4-0-2) and Niskayuna (5-2-0, 5-2-1), are tightly bunched for the division lead and the No. 1 seed for the Section 2 Class AA playoffs at the midway point of the regular season. Shen still has Saratoga, Niskayuna and Bethlehem on its schedule, while Bethlehem has showdowns with Guilderland and Shaker to go along with its Oct. 9 trip to Clifton Park. Saratoga closes its regular season with games against Niskayuna and Shaker.
Saratoga 2, Bethlehem 0
Two goals in the final 20 minutes of the first half were all that Saratoga needed to defeat Bethlehem in Saratoga Springs.
Abby Ray tallied off a feed from Julia DiMenna at the 24:12 mark, and Liz Herman scored at the 33:38 mark to give the Blue Streaks their two-goal cushion. Goalkeeper Natalie Jillson stopped nine shots to pick up the shutout over the state’s third-ranked Class AA girls soccer team.
Goalie Shannon Donnelly made six saves for Bethlehem.
Guilderland 2, Shenendehowa 2
In Clifton Park, Jen Kirker and Michelle Clarkin tallied to help Shen forge a tie against Guilderland.
Riley Grimm and Margot Nezaj scored Guilderland’s goals, and goalie Kiersten Becker had 12 saves.
Columbia 1, Troy 0
Ashley Murtagh’s first-half goal proved to be the game winner for Columbia in its 1-0 victory over Troy.
Murtagh scored off a feed from Kaiden Ring, and goalie Sage Smith stopped nine shots for the Blue Devils. Troy netminder Maddie Rifenberick had 15 saves.