BROADALBIN - It has been a near yearly occurrence for the Fort Ann Lady Cardinals to meet the Northville Lady Falcons in the Section II Class D tournament, and this year was no exception.
However, this time, top-seeded Fort Ann broke through against No. 4 Northville with a 2-0 semifinal win Friday at Patriot Field
Northville and Fort Ann had met for five straight seasons before they didn't encounter each other last year. The Lady Falcons had one all five meetings on their way to winning the last four Section II Class D championships.
Northville’s Kelly VanNostrand (3) kicks the ball downfield as Fort Ann’s Mikayla Graves defends during Friday’s Section II Class D semifinal game at Patriot Field in Broadalbin. (The Leader-Herald/Mike Zummo)
"We've battled with Northville for a lot of years," Fort Ann coach Tim Gleason said. "This is the first time we've beat them. I admire their program and admire what they've been able to do to represent Section II, but it sure is nice to finally beat them."
Fort Ann (15-0) broke through in the 29th minute, catching Northville goalkeeper Joanna Schulte out of the net. Standing in front of the left goalpost, Kaleigh Foran tucked her shot inside the far post, giving the Lady Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
"It was unlucky on our part that we didn't keep them marked up," Northville coach Christopher Edwards said.
Class C Semifinals
Hoosick Falls 6, Albany Academy 0
Mechanicville 1, Hoosic Valley 0
Class D Semifinals
Loudonville Christian 2, St. Johnsville 0
Fort Ann 2, Northville 0
About a minute later, the Lady Falcons (9-7-2) caught Fort Ann goalkeeper Kayla Bancroft out of the net, but were Tessa Hadland's shot was deflected by a Fort Ann defender.
The Lady Cardinals had another opportunity in the 33rd minute on a corner kick, but after a scramble in front of the net, Schulte saved a shot off the head of Fort Ann's Kara White, making sure Northville only went into the half trailing by one.
"Our touch is usually a little better," Gleason said. "We haven't really been on an outdoor field. We have been practicing in the gym, which I thought would have helped our touch on the turf. I think the girls were a little pumped up. Some of the touches were a little too firm but our philosophy is 'if they don't score, we don't lose and we'll find a way to cash one in.'"
Fort Ann had difficulty cashing anything in during the second half as Northville had the Lady Cardinals up against their goal in a frantic attempt to tie the game.
"The second half that we got back into it and played our game," Edwards said. "It's unfortunate that nothing fell for us. We had many opportunities but it didn't fall for us."
The first opportunity came just about five minutes into the second half when Kelly VanNostrand's shot was deflected over the goal by Bancroft. With about 18 minutes to go, VanNostrand's header off a corner kick from Katie Dickey was saved by Bancroft.
Shortly after, Lindsey Wadsworth passed a ball back to Veronica Arceri, but Bancroft got in front of Arceri's shot as well.
"We fought hard," Edwards said. "We had the ball the majority of the time in the second half. They played tough. It's just unfortunate. We accomplished a lot this season that a lot of people thought we wouldn't be able to do with a lot of seniors we lost. We came back strong. We won a lot of games in our season. We played hard together, worked together as a family, like we wanted to. We're going to walk off this field as a family."
Fort Ann scored the backbreaker with about a minute to go when Schulte came running out of the net to kick away a ball that was rolling toward her. But the ball bounced off a Fort Ann player, and Demi Stockman recovered the loose ball and scored Fort Ann's second goal of the game, sealing the win.
"We've had leads on Northville and they've managed to come back so I was very thankful that we could hold them off today," Gleason said.
Fort Ann will move on to Thursday's Section II Class D championship game against second-seeded Loudonville Christian, which defeated No. 6 St. Johnsville, 2-0 in the other semifinal. The loss ends Northville's bid for a fifth-straight sectional title.
"I understand the tears but we have to try to fight the tears because we're not going to let this overcome what we accomplished during the season," Edwards said. "The games that we won this season, we have to think about that, and think about how well we played when we won those games. We're going to walk off this field with our heads high."