ROTTERDAM – The kids are all right at Schalmont.
The Sabres’ girls’ soccer team – Section 2 Class B champions the last three seasons played (not in 2020 because of the pandemic) – has six underclassmen on its roster this season, including three sophomore starters and one freshman starter.
So, naturally, when coach Ryan Fries did his usual thing of asking for the toughest competition the NYSSCOGS Hall of Fame Tournament could reasonably find, there was going to be a wake-up call.
But the Sabres didn’t even rub their eyes before hopping out of bed and answering the call. After a pair of losses to Westhill and West Genesee in the tournament, Schalmont beat Holy Names 8-0, Albany Academy 5-0 and Broadalbin-Perth 2-1. That last one is an especially good measuring stick because it was against last year’s Section 2 Class B runner-up, and both Schalmont and Broadalbin-Perth have moved up to Class A this year with the addition of a sixth class.
Leading this younger group are co-captains Gianna Cirilla, a junior forward, and senior defender Giuliana Ruggiero.
“It’s definitely been something that both of us have had to work on and grow into,” Ruggiero said. “But we just have a good bond. And I think that really helps our leadership because we kind of can easily communicate with each other and understand what the other ones are trying to say. And I think that helps with the team a lot. Because when you have two strong leaders, it really helps the team know who to go to and makes them a lot stronger, as well.”
Fries is comfortable with how the team is doing so far.
“I think we’ve made advances in each game,” Fries said. “Since West Genny, we struggle in areas, but I think we understand that. But, you know, when we can get the ball rolling, we can start to feed off the chemistry of one another. It starts to happen.
“We have to make sure that we’re ready to come out, show people what we got, and we play our game, and we don’t play their game.”
Ruggiero said because of the youth, the Sabres aren’t a physically imposing bunch, but that won’t deter them.
“They’re fast, they’re speedy, they’re not really big, they’re not tall. But we always pass to feet, we contain. So we’re definitely going to be better by late October,” Ruggiero said.
STATE TOURNAMENTS TAKE DIFFERENT APPROACHES
The addition of Class AAA this year has the boys and girls going in different directions as far as their respective state tournaments.
The girls will keep theirs over two days, with all semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Tompkins-Cortland Community College, Cortland High School and Homer High School. All finals will be Sunday, Nov. 12 at SUNY Cortland on either its Red Field or White Field.
The boys will start their tournament at Middletown High School on Friday, Nov. 10, with Class C and D semifinals. All the other semifinals, and the Class C and D finals will be played Saturday, Nov. 11, with the other finals held on Sunday, Nov. 12.
It’s no surprise for Waterford-Halfmoon senior Addyson Galuski, a Class C first-team all-state player last year, to have a sterling game, but her two-goal, four-assist performance in a 9-0 win over Cohoes showed why she’s so dangerous.
When some players get the ball, you know they’ll try to do anything to shoot. Galuski can beat you with a pass just as easily.
Elsewhere, Madison Case had four goals and Abigail Chest had five assists in Mayfield’s 7-1 win over Middleburgh.
Erin Tynan scored four goals in Guilderland’s 10-0 win over Amsterdam.
Eli Kirgin scored five goals in Voorheesville’s 8-0 win over Berlin/New Lebanon.
Loudonville Christian’s Ben Hoffman contributed three goals and two assists in a 10-2 win over Saratoga Central Catholic.