State semis up next for Lady Raiders
Having earned three straight dramatic come-from-behind playoff victories, Barker will now face a Class C state semifinal field hockey test against Carle Place at 3 p.m. Saturday at Williamsville North.
Barker advanced to the state semifinals for the fourth time in the last nine years by outlasting East Rochester 4-3 in overtime in the Far West Regional. Katrina Clare scored three goals to spearhead the Lady Raiders rally, including to the game winner with just 1:30 to go in overtime, upping her season total to 30.
Prior to that the Lady Raiders had to rally from a 2-0 first half deficit to trim Niagara-Orleans League foe Akron 3-2 in overtime in the Section VI semifinals on a goal by Ciara Gregoire and then to nip Eden 2-1 in the sectional final on a goal by Natalie Bruning with just 20 seconds to go.
“It would be great to get off to a good start and play with a lead, but how can you question whether they will fight to get back into it if things start out slow? This team believes in their individual talents and contributions and has confidence in the team as a whole,” said Coach Jeff Costello. “You can see how they care for and love each other as the “Sister Squad.” Our theme this year is “Choose Greatness.” They’ve done so and because of that they are still playing and enjoying Championship Week.”
Carle Place (Section VIII) romped past Pierson (Section IX) 7-0 to win the Long Island Regional.
In fact, it will be a repeat trip to the Final Four for Carle Place which dropped a narrow 1-0 decision to Whitney Point in last year’s title contest.
“Our expectation from Carle Place is a very balanced and talented team,” said Costello. “They’ve been here before and they are a strong team who played eventual state champion Whitney Point tightly last season. We certainly know how good they are.”
Barker, which has a 17-3 season record, is seeking to end a state semifinal win drought as in their three recent trips to the Final Four the Lady Raiders dropped narrow decisions of 1-0 in double overtime to Cazenovia in 2013, 2-1 to Southampton in 2012 and 1-0 to Pierson/Bridgehamption in 2010.
“We have some players who don’t really know what states really is. There have been times this postseason where I have been asked by some of the younger players if that was the last game. Then we have some who have had the experience of seeing siblings play on this stage and have dreamed about getting their own chance some day,” said Costello. “We are a young team that is taking it all in and is enjoying being part of such a memorable run. It’s exciting to see how they handle things, how they react to both celebrating and also how they handle adversity. It’s a great moment for our program for many reasons. To have States at Will North and be so close to home so that our fans and community can come out and support the team is great. There was an impressive crowd that was extremely loud and behind the team at Regionals. It was awesome. We have a chance to rally the school around this group of 18 girls attempting to do something special. It’s very rewarding to see the support so many have given to this team and our school. You can feel the positive vibes being sent by so many-coaches, athletic directors, players, alumni. It’s incredible!”
The victor advances to the state title game at 3 p.m. Sunday at Williamsville North against the winner of the four time defending champion Whitney Point (Section IV) vs. Hoosick Falls (Section II) semifinal. Whitney Point downed Camden (Section III) 2-0 and Hoosick Falls nipped Pawling (Section X) 1-0 in the regionals.