Thursday, 16 February 2023 11:46

Adirondack United Off To Utica

Photo provided by Jeff Willis. Photo provided by Jeff Willis.

NEWBURGH — The Adirondack United varsity girls’ hockey team just continues to make history.

United earned an 11-0 win over East (Section I) in the NYSPHSAA Sub-Regionals on Monday, advancing to the state semifinals in Utica on Friday. The team had previously advanced to Monday’s game by winning the Section VII Championship over Franklin Academy on Feb. 10.

“This was a bit of a dream at the beginning of the season,” said head coach Jeff Willis. “We knew we could be good; it was a matter of putting things together on the ice. But not only have we put it together, we’re really executing at a high level right now.”

United is in its inaugural season as a team. As the only varsity girls hockey team in Section II, the team competed in Section VII this year, winning the regular-season league title as well as the sectional title.

The team is made up of players from Queensbury, Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls, South Glens Falls, Hudson Falls, and Corinth. Willis said United has been able to come together so quickly due to the character and leadership traits of the players, saying “almost a dozen” of the team’s players serve as team captains in other sports at their respective schools.

“There is a lot of individual talent, but part of what makes these girls great is their leadership characteristics,” Willis said. “To have that type of leadership and character among them, it shows that they value the team, they understand the sacrifices that you need to make. They’re willing to play for each other.”

United clinched a spot in the Sub-Regionals with a 5-1 victory over Franklin Academy in the Section VII Championship. The Huskies jumped out to a 1-0 lead after one period, but United came out strong in the second period and finished the game with five unanswered goals.

“We just weren’t doing some of the things that we were really good at,” said Willis of Friday’s first period. “We weren’t getting pucks to the front of the net; we weren’t shooting as much as we needed to. We just kind of tweaked that.”

United cracked the scoreboard just under six minutes into the second period, with a shot by Queensbury junior Bayley Duffy tying the game, 1-1. Duffy scored again later in the period, extending the lead to 2-1. 

Gianna Marcantonio, a freshman from Queensbury, finished off an assist by Duffy to extend the lead to 3-1, and the team received goals from Emerson Lochner-Fehl and Emily MacAuley to wrap up a 5-1 final score.

But United still had more steps to take, quickly preparing for Monday’s Sub-Regional contest against East. The teams had played twice during the regular season, both United victories.

Duffy scored off an assist from Marcantonio just under two and a half minutes into the game, giving United a 1-0 lead. United broke the game wide open in the second period, scoring six goals to take a commanding 7-0 lead, before adding four more in the third for an 11-0 final.

Emily MacAuley extended the lead to 2-0 less than a minute into the second, and Marcantonio followed up with a quick pair of goals to make it 4-0. Marcantonio completed the hat trick later in the period, scoring her third goal, while Duffy added two more goals for a hat trick of her own.

Tekla Fine-Lease, Amelia Laszewski, Jillian Willis, and Jessica Freebern scored goals in the third period for United. Ava Reynolds stopped all 10 shots she faced, playing the first two periods, while Regan Gecewicz played the third and stopped nine shots.

The next step for United is certainly a big one: the state semifinals. United (18-1-0) will face Section X’s Canton at the Nexus Center in Utica at 6 p.m. Friday. 

Ultimately, the trip to states is another chance for United to continue to do what they’ve done all season: make history.

“Sometimes we talk about this being like a Disney story,” said Willis. “Your first year ever, and all of a sudden you’re on this magical run. You couldn’t really write a story script better than this.”

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