MIDDLETOWN The state playoffs have not been kind to Section 1’s Class C teams.
Local small schools fell in the regional semifinals the past four seasons.
That changed Tuesday when Haldane ended Section 1’s drought, claiming its first state playoff win in program history. The Blue Devils beat Section 9’s S.S. Seward 5-0 in their regional semifinal at Middletown.
Bailey McCollum notched two goals, while teammates Kate Lahey, Marina Martin and Allie Monteleone also scored. Haldane handed the Spartans, who have fluctuated between Class C and D, their first loss in the regional semifinals since 2002.
“I don’t even know how to describe it,” McCollum said. “We’re just so happy.”
The Blue Devils will play the winner between Section 8’s Friends Academy and Section 11’s Stony Brook in the regional final Saturday at a time to be determined.
Lahey, a senior, was overwhelmed with emotion after the win.
“Every game could be your last,” Lahey said. “You don’t want to end (your season) on a loss. We’ve got to go as hard as we can.”
The Blue Devils were dominant from the start, registering 26 shots and allowing only two. Redemption was a motivating factor for Haldane, which lost to the Spartans the past two seasons in the regional semifinals.
“We all walked into school this morning with our headphones in and our track uniforms on,” Lahey said. “We just started getting ready as soon as we woke up. We wanted this one bad.”
Haldane coach Gary Van Asselt, who as a bus driver at the school has driven many sports teams to states, finds coaching a team that’s making its own run to be special.
“To be part of a team that’s doing it themselves is one of my goals in life,” Van Asselt said. “It’s coming to fruition now.”
Van Asselt stressed the importance of Haldane’s 12 seniors in the success the Blue Devils have had.
“I can’t impress upon you (enough) the leadership of the 12 seniors,” Van Asselt said. “The little ones just sit back and are absorbing the energy we have.”