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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, July 9, 2009
Varsity sports year in review: Soccer was king in the fall of ’08
By Jordan J. Michael
There was one big winner and one big loser in the fall sports season of 2008.
The Guilderland boys’ soccer team won the Class AA title and the Voorheesville football team had a losing season after players were benched for using performance enhancing drugs.
Also, the Berne-Knox-Westerlo boys’ cross-country team battled the Voorheesville Blackbirds for the Class CC championship and won by only a few points.
The Lady Birds’ volleyball team searched for a second straight sectional title, but came up short against Lake George in the finals. The Warriors proved to be a nemesis for Voorheesville, taking down the boys’ soccer team in the Class CC semi-finals.
It was a down year for both the Guilderland and Voorheesville football teams, each finishing below .500 after moderately successful seasons in 2007. The Blackbirds never really recovered from the drug use that landed four players on the suspended list.
All six soccer teams covered by The Enterprise made it into the postseason in 2008, some losing early, and some making small runs that eventually ended. It made for an exciting end to the soccer season and to the fall season as a whole.
After The Enterprise broke the story that Voorheesville football players were using performance enhancing drugs, the district reacted by educating the community, hosting a forum in November where John Underwood told the athletes about the problems with such drug use.
Five Blackbird players had been taking “some weird stuff,” Jevan Dollard, a player on the team, said in September.
Voorheesville’s interim superintendent, Raymond Colucciello, said that the drugs used by the athletes were “over-the-counter, non-prescription substances.”
Voorheesville’s high school principal Mark Diefendorf called them “designer drugs,” substances that were on the verge of being illegal. “They change the molecular structure. They’re just one step ahead of the law,” he said back in September.
The players, who were never named, were suspended for 10 days. They were back playing with the Blackbirds after a few games. The team dropped to 0-4 after a 67-to-7-loss at Chatham, a game played without the five suspended players.
Voorheesville is a team that usually makes the postseason, but failed to do so in 2008.
“This football program hasn’t really faced this much distress before,” Head Coach Joe Sapienza said after the Chatham loss. “We’re in a re-gelling period.”
Soccer in the spotlight
The Dutchmen soccer team was undefeated in 2008 all the way to a Class AA championship. The Dutch’s 3-to-2 win over Shenendehowa secured the team’s first title since 1997.
Guilderland needed an overtime win over Shaker in the semi-finals to get to the final game. Senior Sahr Nyuma scored in the final two minutes of regulation play and once again in overtime for the win.
Senior Kip Stillman scored in the final minutes against the Plainsmen for a win on the next night. The Dutch had two magical nights under the lights. “It’s one of those feelings you can’t explain,” Nyuma said after the Shaker game.
Guilderland went on to lose in the next round, but the sectional title is what the team was looking for. “Our goal was Section II champs, so I think we’ll be OK from now on,” said Head Coach Mike Kinnally.
The Voorheesville boys’ team was knocked out early by a surging Lake George squad in the semi-finals to the dismay of the 12 Blackbird seniors.
Voorheesville was the Class CC favorite after finishing the year at the top of the tough Colonial Council. The team became frustrated against the tough defense of the Warriors and was unable to finish key opportunities.
“I wish we could have gone out on a better note,” Head Coach Willie Sanchez said after the cold late October match. “Sometimes soccer sucks and things don’t go your way.”
The Bulldogs were Lake George’s victims in the quarterfinal round. BKW was the eighth seed in Class CC after losing its last six games of the regular season. The team had a 2-to-0 win over Cambridge in the first round.
Even though the Bulldogs didn’t score many goals, the team found a way to win with good defense and great goalkeeping by Greg Hannay. It was a successful season after an awful 2007.
All three girls’ soccer teams made it to the playoffs in 2008, but all three teams had an early exit. Voorheesville vastly improved its record from a year before.
The Lady Dutch made it to the quarterfinals after a 4-to-1 win over Albany, but ran into a strong Bethlehem team. It was the third time Guilderland had faced its Suburban Council rivals.
The Enterprise covered a hard fought 1-to-0 loss to Bethlehem earlier in the fall and Eagles again beat the Dutch, 1 to 0, in the quarterfinal round. Head Coach Barb Newton was confident, but the team couldn’t get over the hill created by the number-one seed.
The Lady Birds played well enough under Head Coach Joe Santos to earn a fifth seed in the Class CC sectionals, only to lose its first game to Cambridge, 1-0. However, it was a sign that the girls’ team was heading in the right direction after a couple of rough seasons.
Voorheesville will have most of its roster back for next year. “We’re staying aggressive on the field,” Santos said after a game against Ravena.
The BKW girls also lost their first sectional soccer game, 5-2, to a lower seeded Hoosic Valley team. It was an up-and-down year for the young team. Most of the players will be back in 2009.
The Voorheesville girls’ volleyball team had an emotional Class C final against Lake George and hoped for a second consecutive title after knocking off the Warriors a year before.
Lake George was better prepared this time around and beat the Lady Birds, three games to one. “We surprised them on the court in 2007,” Head Coach Sandy Vorse said before the final. “I think they’ll take us more seriously this time.”
Coach Vorse was right and Voorheesville tried to rally and kept it close before bowing out. The team may have lacked height, but found ways to win matches.
“What we don’t have in height,” said senior Amanda O’Brien. “We have in heart.”
The gridiron wasn’t kind to the Guilderland football team in 2008. The season got off to a bad start against Bethlehem when the Dutch couldn’t get a single first down in the first half.
Guilderland lost that first game, 29-7, and never really recovered. However, The Enterprise did witness a rain-soaked final second win over Christian Brothers’ Academy on the home field. It was one of those classic football games that everyone loves.
Usually football is the highlight to a fall sports season, but that wasn’t the case in 2008. Soccer, the sport that is actually played with the foot, took all the excitement.
Voorheesville boys’ soccer, BKW boys’ soccer and Voorheesville girls’ volleyball all ended their seasons with losses to Lake George in the sectionals. The Warriors did some damage to the local teams.