DRYDEN Haldane didn’t appear to be in great shape halfway through its Class C state semifinal against Section 4’s Lansing at Tompkins-Cortland Community College Saturday.
In the first 40 minutes the Blue Devils weren’t able to register a shot and barely controlled possession in the Bobcats’ half.
Haldane didn’t concede a goal, however, something that proved to be the silver lining for the Blue Devils heading into halftime.
“It was one of our worst halves ever…(Lansing) played great,” Haldane sophomore Bailey McCollum said. “Their best half was our worst, so we knew we could play with them.”
The second half proved to be a different story. The Blue Devils controlled possession, capitalizing in the 62nd minute when McCollum sent a shot just under the crossbar and in off a through ball from Kate Lahey to give Haldane a 1-0 win over Lansing, sending the Blue Devils to their first state final in program history.
Haldane will face Section 6’s Holland in the state final Sunday at 10 a.m. at SUNY Cortland.
“We hadn’t played our best in the first half, and yet we were 0-0,” said Haldane keeper Cali Schweikhart, who made 13 saves. “We came into halftime knowing we could do better, and if we did do better we could pull out the win.”
Schweikhart proved to be vital for the Blue Devils (16-2-3) early on. The senior captain made nine saves to keep Lansing (19-1) off the board in the first half.
“I knew we came out a little shaky,” Schweikhart said. “Going through my head (in the first half) was to just do everything I can to keep my team in the game, especially when we are going through a rough patch like that.”
Haldane coach Gary Van Asselt contributed the Blue Devils’ slow start to the nerves associated with playing in the biggest game in program history.
“We played kickball,” said Van Asselt of his team’s play in the first half. “We tried settling them down. They needed to take a deep breath.”
Building off the confidence of holding the No. 1-ranked Class C team in the state C scoreless, Haldane, the No. 3-ranked team, was able to put together more sustained possessions.
The culmination came when Lahey found a streaking McCollum.
“I just knew that the goalie was really big, and I had to hit it hard,” said McCollum of the goal.
Schweikhart is one of 12 seniors that have all had their eyes on a state championship.
“We’ve had this goal forever,” said Schweikhart of winning a state title. “It’s coming true, and we need to make it happen.”