Unatego’s girls soccer season has been all about control.
Whether the Spartans keep it or lose it will be determined Saturday, when the undefeated Section Four champions play a Class C state quarterfinal against Section Three winner Sauquoit Valley at Fulton High.
“They play a very different game than us,” Unatego coach Sue Herodes said of Sauquoit Valley, a 17-2-1 team that played Cooperstown to a scoreless tie in the championship game of the SV Tournament on Oct. 20. “They are a long-ball team. They have very good ball-control skills. They’re very quick. We have some speed up front, but it’s all around for them. That’s the one thing that worries me.
“We play a lot more of a control game,” she continued. “We’re not a kick-and-run team. We try to move the ball more. Definitely, we have been really successful at it this season.”
Midstate Athletic Conference champion Unatego will take an 18-0-1 record and the state’s No. 4 ranking in Class C into Saturday’s 1 p.m. quarterfinal against the Indians, who are ranked 10th. Senior forward Elisa Marchione leads SV with 28 goals and 12 assists this season.
“Everything goes through her,” Herodes said. “She’s very active in the midfield and on top. She is very good.
“They play almost everything up the middle,” she continued, “but we are very strong up the middle.”
A lot of that has to do with senior midfielder Katrina Clark, a potent scorer and a shut-down defender who will start Saturday’s game marking Marchione.
“She is an excellent marking player, no question about it,” Herodes said of Clark, who has 26 points — on 10 goals and six assists — and has been a major part of Unatego’s 17 shutouts. “I believe she will be able to keep (Marchione) out of her game. We’ll start that way and see how the defense adjusts to them.