By ROB JONAS
NISKAYUNA – Some of the top high school girls soccer teams in New York – including three defending NYSSPHSAA champions and the reigning Catholic High School Athletic Association champ – converged on the Capital Region Sept. 7 and 8 for the NYSSCOGS Tournament.
A record number of 52 teams participated in this year’s tournament, which was held at fields in Niskayuna, Clifton Park and Stillwater. Niskayuna head coach Bryce Colby, who organizes the event with NYSSCOGS president Perry Novak, said moving the location from Hamilton to the Capital Region led to the surge in the number of participating schools.
“We decided to move it here this year, and it just exploded,” said Colby. “Because of the location, a bunch of teams from downstate and [New York City] decided to come here.”
“I think it’s great because you get to go against teams like Massapequa, Shen and Niskayuna,” said Monroe-Woodbury head coach Bill Mpasiakos.
The tournament featured a number of major early-season clashes between statewide powers. Massapequa (Section 8) faced off against defending Class AA champion Monroe-Woodbury and Section 2’s Niskayuna in its two games, CHSAA champion St. Anthony’s took on Shenendehowa, while Class A champ Valley Stream South (8) battled Shen and Bethlehem.
“It’s a great test,” said Massapequa head coach Bruce Stegner. “You get to see where you stack up.”
Among the highlights for Section 2 teams was Niskayuna’s 3-2 victory over Massapequa Sunday, Sept. 8. Olivia Piraino recorded a hat trick to give the Silver Warriors a 3-0 lead midway through the second half before Massapequa closed the gap on goals by Jessica Lynsky and Gianna Savella.
Bethlehem coach Tom Rogan also reached a milestone at the tournament. Rogan collected his 300th career victory in the Lady Eagles’ 3-1 win against Valley Stream South Sunday.
“It’s interesting. You’re on the bus, and the music has gone from Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus to Katy Perry,” said Rogan. “It’s an honor being in these girls’ lives.”
Anna Nichols scored Bethlehem’s first goal early in the first half, and Claire Hutton added a pair of second half tallies to give the Lady Eagles a comfortable cushion to work with.
St. Anthony’s, which plays mostly CHSAA competition on Long Island, got a rare test against a NYSPHSAA squad when it defeated Shen 2-1 Sunday. St. Anthony’s had difficulty mounting a sustained attack until the final two minutes of the first half, when Brianna Jablonowski and Samantha Adams scored to give St. Anthony’s a 2-0 lead. Maia LaVigne tallied less than six minutes into the second half to pull the Lady Plainsmen to within a goal, and Shen had several chances to tie the score before falling to the reigning CHSAA champs.
“This tournament always has great competition, and Shen has always been a tough team,” said St. Anthony’s head coach Sue Alber. “It was good to get in a game against a tough team.”
“I couldn’t have been happier with the way we responded to a really talented team,” said Shen coach Holli Nirsberger.
The NYSSCOGS Tournament is held in conjunction with its New York State High School Girls Soccer Hall of Fame induction ceremony. This year, the hall welcomed 16 new inductees, including Niskayuna High School graduate Kristin Scharphorn and New Lebanon grad Elizabeth Traver.
Scharphorn was the starting goaltender for Niskayuna during its rise to state prominence in the 1990s, including its state championship seasons of 1995 and 1998.
“It was such an honor, and it was incredibly special to be invited here and inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Scharphorn.
Traver was the star player for New Lebanon when its girls soccer program started in the late 1970s. From there, she played at Yale University, where she set career records that are still on the books.
“What an incredible honor,” said Traver, who drove all the way from her home in Wyoming to attend the ceremony in person. “I’ve always loved soccer. I still kick the ball around at home. To be recognized so many years later is incredible.”
The rest of the 2019 induction class included players Kym Eynard (Union-Endicott), Kylie Strom (Union-Endicott), Sarah Elnicky (Aquinas), Kathy Giocondo (Fayetteville-Manlius), Jessica Shufelt (Greece Arcadia), Brittany Butts (Massapequa), Katie Johnson (Massapequa), Lorraine Quinn (Farmingdale), Rosiland Santana (North Babylon) and Jasmyne Spencer (Bay Shore). Coaches/contributors Tim Peabody, Brenda Gibson and Paul Krupa were also inducted this year.
Photos by Rob Jonas. Copyright 2019 by Capital Region HS Sports.