MIDDLETOWN – All that the Baldwinsville boys soccer team lacks from its long and rich winning legacy was a New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship.
Unable to get it in Class A or AA despite some close calls, the Bees now were in the newly-created Class AAA and, having secured sectional and regional crowns, made their way to Middletown last weekend to try and grab that long-elusive top prize.
Right up to the end, B’ville would battle, only to get turned back 2-1 by Long Island’s Brentwood in Sunday afternoon’s title game, a small disappointment at the end of a post-season full of accomplishment.
Saturday night’s state semifinal pitted B’ville against Section VI’s Lancaster, and despite a far later start than anticipated, the combination of strong defense and well-timed scoring plays produced a 2-0 victory.
The Bees and Legends both had to wait out double overtime in the first state semifinal, where Brentwood beat Arlington 2-1. This only added to the nerves since this was the last of 12 state semifinals to get played in the Middletown/Goshen area and two state titles had already been decided.
Yet when it finally got underway, B’ville and Lancaster showed plenty of energy going back and forth for a majority of the first half, waiting to see who would break through.
In the 29th minute, B’ville earned a free kick, and Greg Ramin put it into the net, giving the Bees a 1-0 advantage that it held until halftime – and didn’t take long in the second half to build upon.
Ian Price did the honors, converting in the 48th minute, and the two-goal margin held up the rest of the way as again, B’ville’s defense, led by Jaden Baker, Ryan Bullis, Alec Smith and Tyler Williams, stifled whatever Lancaster tried to establish and goalie Nick Hollingshead kept everything else out.
Now it was a chance at history on Sunday afternoon, and only Brentwood in the way coming off a long and exhausting state semifinal, though the Long Island champions’ track record includes five state titles, the most recent claimed in 2019.
What B’ville had managed to avoid most of the season was anyone scoring an early goal on them. Brentwood did so, though, as Josue Granados, who had both the tying and winning goals against Arlington, put a shot past Hollinghsead just 4:33 into the title game to change the entire dynamic of the contest.
Forced to attack more, the Bees countered in the 12th minute as Price netted his second goal of the weekend. Then the two sides settled down on the defensive side for the rest of the first half and went to the break 1-1, knowing that the next goal, if it came, would prove quite important.
In the 55th minute, Brentwood would go back in front, Diego Argueta netting the goal. Still, the Bees had 24-plus minutes to try and answer, and went all-out attempting to do so.
Brentwood simply would not let it happen, though, and B’ville saw its season end at 17-4-1, just short of the summit, but still proud of all it had accomplished along the way.
Hollingshead, Baker, Ramin, Williams and Andrew Jung (whose OT goal beat Shaker in the regional final) lead the group of departing seniors, but a solid group returns in 2024, hoping it can return to this big stage and go one step further.