By ROB JONAS
SCHENECTADY – For the second time since it re-started its boys soccer program four years ago, Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons has reached the second round of the Section 2 playoffs.
Wil Lawson’s hat trick led the eighth-seeded Golden Knights (11-4-0) to a 4-0 victory over No. 9 Bolton-Warrensburg in a Class C opening round game Thursday, Oct. 18, at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School.
Lawson’s three goals give him 90 for his varsity career – one that only began at the small private school when he and some other students pushed for soccer to be reinstated.
“I don’t know about [reaching] 100 [goals], but everyone would like to shoot that high,” said Lawson, who is one of six seniors on this year’s roster.
“They had an absence of soccer here for a number of years,” said Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons head coach Joe Masi. “Will and some of his friends got together and said let’s have a team here.”
Lawson and junior Connor Barber struck for goals within the first eight minutes of the first half to give Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons a 2-0 lead. Both times, their shots deflected off of Bolton-Warrensburg goalkeeper Kevin Neacy and went into the net.
“[Neacy] got a piece of it, but I think it was a little too hard for him to handle,” said Lawson.
Bolton-Warrensburg (8-6-1) mounted a sustained attack midway through the first half, but goalie Cole Nelson and the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons defense was up to the challenge. Nelson punched away a potential Bolton-Warrensburg goal off a corner kick and caught several more shots to keep the score sheet clean.
“It helped all of our team play harder because we had the lead,” said Nelson, who stopped 14 shots in his first game back from a concussion.
Lawson struck again less than 12 minutes into the second half when he received a through ball from Joseph Matala and shot the ball past Neacy to make the score 3-0.
“When I get the ball, everything goes away except for the keeper,” said Lawson. “I just have to figure out which side to shoot it.”
Lawson completed his hat trick late in the second half when he was tripped up in the box for a penalty kick. Lawson calmly slotted the shot into the lower right corner of the goal.
Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons meets top-seeded Lake George Monday, Oct. 22, in the Class C quarterfinals, and Lawson said the Knights are ready for the challenge of playing the state’s top-ranked team.
“Four years coming, and we’ve only made it to the second round of Sectionals twice,” said Lawson. “I want to keep this going.”
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