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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, June 30, 2011
Year in review
By Jordan J. Michael
Local varsity sports teams this past fall basked in victory or suffered loss. Yet, the one thing that remains constant is the display of passion and emotion by the athletes and coaches.
Group celebration, tears, laughter, smiles, a hung head, and screams. These are just a few ways that athletes express themselves during competition. Last fall, The Enterprise saw expression in many unusual forms.
The Voorheesville girls’ volleyball team encompassed every possible emotion into one three-month season.
The Lady Birds experienced the jubilation of beating a menace in the playoffs, freakishly storming the court after a straight set victory over Loudonville Christian. The team ran its record to 21-0 before taking five out of six sets in the state semifinal round.
All that elation turned to utter sadness when Voorheesville lost to Falconer in the Class C state finals. It was like rising a mile high, only to be dropped without a parachute. There wasn’t a dry eye in the arena.
That was the only moment when Voorheesville players weren’t smiling or laughing. Up to that point, the girls would laugh in the face of mistakes, which they rarely made anyway. They thoroughly enjoyed the sport and that mattered above all else.
In one of the best quotes of the entire school year, Morgan Vandervort, now a graduate, said this when asked about getting upset: “We can only focus on what we can control.”
Swim to the moon
Jenna Bickel, now a senior at Guilderland, has made a name for herself as a swimmer. Late last November, she won a state title in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 56.30. Happiness would be an understatement in her case.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to accomplish,” Bickel said a few days after winning. “It was exciting to do it and I’m so unbelievably happy.”
It was Bickel’s fourth appearance at states in as many years. She had progressed each time, setting herself up to eventually be a champion. Two weeks before the state meet, Bickel broke the Section II record for backstroke (56.24).
Bickel is eyeing the 2012 United States Olympic Team Trials, which take place from June 25 to July 2 in Omaha, Neb. She’ll be competing in the women’s 100-meter backstroke. She practices her form almost every day.
“I really want it,” said Bickel in November. That sums it up quite nicely.
Controversy and pain
The 2010 soccer season didn’t end without controversy. Both the Voorheesville boys and the Guilderland girls were disturbed with how their seasons came to a close in the quarterfinal playoff round.
The Blackbirds were defending sectional champions, but a trip to Lake George turned ugly. Voorheesville said after the game that two of its goals were disallowed following questionable plays involving Lake George goalkeeper, Ryan Moll.
Voorheesville lost, 2 to 1.
Both scoring opportunities would have tied the game in the second half. First, a Blackbird player collided with Moll, and the ball ended up in the net. Secondly, no penalty was called after Moll took down Andrew Cole during his attempt to head the ball.
Also, in the first half, Blake Fenner beat Moll with a high shot that hit the underside of the crossbar, bouncing back into play. Voorheesville said that the referees were out of position and unable to allow the goal.
“They gave no reasons for any of the calls and didn’t want to hear anything,” Head Coach Willie Sanchez said at the time. “It’s unfortunate when refs have such an impact on the game. It wasn’t the only reason, but it was a big reason. We worked hard, but things were out of our control.”
The Lady Dutch fell to Bethlehem, 2 to 0, in the Class AA quarterfinals, and the hullabaloo again centered on the goalkeeper. Guilderland was looking to surpass the Eagles, a team it hadn’t beaten in five years.
After a scoreless first half, trouble brewed in front of the Guilderland goal. Jenna Cubello tried to secure the ball in the middle of a scrum, but came out steaming after Bethlehem was awarded with a score. Cubello said that she had “some possession” of the ball and was sat on by an opposing player.
Intentionally thwarting a goalie from making a save is illegal. No call was made.
“They kicked the ball out of her hands,” said Kara Carman, who received a yellow card for complaining after the play. “Jenna definitely had the ball, but the referees were pretty awful.”
Guilderland was distressed and couldn’t compose itself enough to score a goal. “We can’t go home feeling good and honest about this one,” Head Coach Barbara Newton said.
Even though Guilderland football missed the Class AA playoffs, the team had a huge upset over undefeated Shenendehowa on the road. The Dutchmen showed true will, and crushed the Plainsmen, 37 to 13.
Ryan Smith, now graduated, threw for 226 yards and ran for 66 more. He created three touchdowns, two through the air and one on the ground. Over the last two seasons, Smith was among the top five for passing yards in Section II. At times, Smith put Guilderland on his shoulders.
When the Dutchmen took Shen’s field last fall, the fans greeted the team with chants of “Fk the Dutch.” Those antics just added more fuel to Guilderland’s fire.
“It did amp up my players a little more than they already were,” Head Coach Dan Penna said at the time.
The Voorheesville football team had its second successful season in a row and ended up involved in a timeless Class C quarterfinal at Greenwich on a Friday evening. The weather was freezing cold, but the ending was even more bitter.
With top-notch defenses, scoring was at a minimum. After exhausting the clock with a long drive, Voorheesville tried a 34-yard field goal with less than six minutes remaining in regulation. The kick missed wide right and Greenwich took possession.
The Witches put together a solid drive with some big completions and ended up running the ball in for a score with about two minutes left. The score was 14 to 8 and Voorheesville had a final chance.
The Blackbirds got all the way to the 20-yard line after crucial plays by quarterback Ryan Duncan and wide receiver James Currier, who made a catch while falling out of bounds. Voorheesville couldn’t punch in a score and lost the game.
Some Birds’ players sat on the field with their heads resting on their knees just another example of human expression through sports.
Next week, read a round-up of the winter and spring seasons.