GREENE — It’s been 16 years since Unatego’s girls qualified for the state soccer tournament, but the Spartans are going back thanks in large part to a suffocating defense and a goal that crossed the line by inches.
On a cool Friday night that proved that winter can’t be far away, sophomore Torri Halaquist slipped a shot past Elmira Notre Dame keeper Sheridan Heine with 21 minutes, 13 seconds left in the first half as the top-seeded Spartans advanced with a 1-0 victory in the Section Four Class C title game.
“I’m so proud of these girls because they worked so hard,” Spartans coach Sue Herodes said of her 18-0-1 squad, which will play the Section Three champion in a Class C state quarterfinal Nov. 10 at a Syracuse-area site. “I’ve had two of these girls since the eighth grade and we have eight seniors, and they’ve earned this.”
One of the those girls who’s been with Herodes for five years is senior Sarah Mannina, and she played a big role in setting up Halaquist’s goal.
Mannina had possession on the right side and beat Crusaders defender Brittany Schutrum before sending a pass across the box. Halaquist got inside her defender on the left side of the box and struck a low shot to the near post. Heine made a diving effort and appeared to have it saved, but the ball slid under her and trickled toward the goal line. It just got over as a Crusaders defender cleared it.
“I knew she was going to cross it because she had a bad angle,” Halaquist said of Mannina’s pass. “I just had to get ball side of my defender. ... I was going low (on the shot) because I know those are the hardest for the goalie to get.”