CORTLAND The significance of being able to finish opportunities is more important in soccer than possibly any other sport.
A team that can convert its chances into goals, however few they may be, can prevail against a team that dominates possession.
That was the case Sunday when Haldane fell to Section 6’s Holland 2-1 in the Class C state final at SUNY Cortland. The Dutchmen’s only two shots of the game came in the form of goals from Olivia Schmidt and Alicia Massara in the 36th and 58th minute, respectively.
The Blue Devils (16-3-3), who took 14 shots and had 12 corners, had their chances, but couldn’t get on the board until Hannah Monteleone buried a rebound given up by Holland’s (18-1-1) keeper Haley Hymers (seven saves) in the 68th minute.
“It’s just the way the ball goes,” said Haldane coach Gary Van Asselt of losing despite controlling the majority of the game. “It’s a soccer game. That’s the beauty of it.”
Haldane seemed primed to score early, taking nine shots in the first half. Deep shots slipped past Hymers and went wide of the net twice in the first half.
“We had our opportunities in the first half, and we squandered them,” Van Asselt said.
Schmidt took advantage of the Dutchmen’s lone corner of the game when she finished senior Chelsea Grupp’s cross with just 4:38 left in the half.
Van Asselt said Holland’s goal actually energized his team, who has experience playing from behind. Friends Academy took a 1-0 lead on the Blue Devils in overtime of the regional finals. Haldane scored in the second overtime and advanced in penalty kicks.
“We knew we had the potential to comeback,” said Haldane senior Cali Schweikhart, who received the game’s most outstanding goalkeeper award. “We have so much heart we knew we could. We knew we had the chance.”
Midway through the second half the Dutchmen capitalized on another opportunity as Massara volleyed in a cross from Schmidt, who was named the game’s MVP, to push the lead to two.
Monteleone’s goal with just over 12 minutes remaining gave the Blue Devils hope, but Haldane couldn’t net an equalizer.
“We were proud of how we played,” Schweikhart said “We just knew we had to finish. The fact that it didn’t happen and we couldn’t put ourselves ahead was really just a bummer.”
Van Asselt had a positive outlook on the fact the Blue Devils were able to reach the state final for the first time in program history.
“40,000 kids wanted to be here,” said Van Asselt of playing in the state final. “We’re lucky we got to play (in it).”