Unatego has a chance at redemption when it squares off against Little Falls on Saturday in a Class C girls regional final.
In the same game a year ago, the Spartans’ season came to a close with a 1-0 loss to the Mounties. Little Falls scored its only goal with 6:34 left in regulation, putting an end to an otherwise fabulous season for Unatego that saw the Spartans lose just three games, two of them to Little Falls.
While success has followed the Spartans at just about every turn this season, they feel they still have room to grow.
“You always can be better. There’s never an end to that,” Unatego coach Sue Herodes said. “We’re doing a lot of fundamentals and we’re trying to sharpen up our touches. Every day we’re looking to improve.”
On Oct. 12, these two teams met in the Kyle Sharpe Tournament final that saw the Spartans win, 2-1.
“The game that we played against them at Schoharie, smaller field, grass field, the turf is definitely going to be different,” Herodes said. “We do fairly well on turf.
“They have a few players that we have to keep them in our sight,” continued Herodes. “They definitely have kids that will capitalize on sight.”
Unatego and Little Falls each carry quite a bit of firepower, combining for 34 wins and outscoring opponents by a shared margin of 175-24.
Dana Stepp is the Spartan’s top offensive threat. In her past four games, Stepp has notched nine points on seven goals and two assists, including the game-winning goal against Elmira-Notre Dame last Saturday in the Class C final.
This weekend against Little Falls, Herodes mentioned Paige McCoy as someone who could potentially offer offensive support to Stepp.
“Paige up front as been a pretty solid player and she did not play in the last Little Falls game,” Herodes said. “There are definitely kids on this team that can score. I think Dana is definitely more of the offensive-minded kid. I think that’s helped us in the last couple of games where scoring doesn’t happen that often.”
Unatego certainly has not had trouble finding the back of the net this season, but its defense has been just as impressive, if not more so, this season.
The Spartans have only allowed 12 goals all year and five of them came in their wild 6-5 win over Lansing on Oct. 29 in a section semifinal.
“They are playing as a unit very well right now,” Herodes said. “Kaitlyn Fortin is just a cool cucumber man. She plays hard, she’s little and she’s deceiving and she’s a brick wall out there. Hannah (Brandow) is one of the more aggressive defenders out there.”
Goalie Meghan Perry has also been a big reason Unatego has been so hard to score against as her strong play, highlighted by a 15-save performance against the Lady Crusaders, has provided a strong all-around backfield for the Spartans.
Now with the highly-touted rematch just days away, Unatego is ready to go.
“The kids are excited,” Herodes said. “Saturday is going to be a battle.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. at Norwich High School.