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NEW YORK STATE CLASS AA GIRLS SOCCER SEMIFINALS
Arlington (Section 1) vs. Bethlehem (Section 2)
When: Saturday, November 19 at 1:30 p.m.
Where: Homer High School
Head coach: Kieran McIlvenny
Players to watch: Shannon Palmer (senior, striker); Ally Pushkarsh (junior, striker); Kristin Skonieczy (senior, goalie)
Head coach: Tom Rogan
Players to watch: Tara Teal (junior, midfield); Katie Nickles (junior, goalie); Jackie Kearney (senior, midfielder)
This should be an outstanding game by two teams on a roll. Bethlehem, out of Section 2, is an experienced group that won its fourth consecutive sectional crown with a win over Shenendehowa. What Arlington lacks in state tourney experience – this is the Admirals’ first trip to the Final Four – it makes up for with its skilled players and suffocating defense.
“We know they’re a really direct team. They played a high-pressure game but they’re really defensive, too,” Arlington goalkeeper Kristin Skonieczy said of the Eagles. “Lot of balls in the air. Different from our game so it’s going to be tough.”
Bethlehem striker Tara Teal has 17 goals this season and is the Eagles’ top offensive threat. But Arlington coach Kieran McIlvenny said his focus has been more on his team, and he likes what he’s seen the last few weeks.
“Our passion is fantastic,” McIlvenny said. “The girls show a lot of passion. It’s not something a coach can instill. And, the teamwork has been phenomenal. You’ve got a bunch of players, maybe some new ones because every year is a new year, and you want to find that right chemistry. I think we found it. I would say they have faith in each other. We have faith in our goalkeepers, faith in our defense, faith in our midfield. We haven’t been in the position to have been down much this season, but we have been in tight matches. They always feel they can get a goal.”
The winner of the Arlington-Bethlehem game plays for the state championship on noon Sunday at SUNY Cortland (Red Field) against the winner of Brockport (Section 5) and General MacArthur (Section 8).
2011 PLAYOFF COVERAGE
NYS regional finals: Arlington girls earn first-ever trip to Final Four
Section 1 finals: Arlington erupts late in OT to beat South
Section 1 semifinals: Arlington girls advance with OT thriller
Section 1 opening round: Arlington girls blank Carmel