BURNT HILLS — A Suburban Council record 30 assists. Scoring four goals in seven minutes. A third straight Section II Class A title. League Most Valuable Player. 2012 was a season to remember for Morgan Burchhardt, the now senior who’s looking to get back to the New York State final four.
When she played recreational soccer in first grade, Burchhardt said she would always keep the ball and never pass. To this day, Burchhardt would still rather score a goal than anything else on the field, but it’s no doubt the senior center forward knows how to set her teammates up for a chance at the back of the net.
“We’ve had some great players here in the past,” Burnt Hills–Ballston Lake head coach Brian Bold said. “Morgan’s absolutely on par with some of those legends and some of those greats we’ve had in Burnt Hills’ uniforms. One of the things that Morgan was focused on last year was distributing the ball and going after that assist record and she achieved it. It’s a great feather in her cap…To have her is an absolute asset. To have her at the quality that she’s at makes her even more important.”
This year, the team captain has another personal challenge: 30 goals.
Last year, Burchhardt ended with 17, four of which were scored within a seven-minute span in a September 15 game against Columbia.
“I was getting mad at myself because I wasn’t scoring,” Burchhardt recalled from the day she achieved the unheard-of feat. “I had a lot of opportunities at first and I couldn’t capitalize. They were kind of crappy goals. The first two were exactly the same and probably should have been saved, but I’m not going to argue. Those two went in and I just kept going after that.”
Bold is also expecting even more goal production out of Burchhardt this season—the final year the duo will be together.
“This is her last year here,” said Bold, who has been coaching Burchhardt since she was a 12-year-old. “It’s nice for Morgan. She knows where she’s going to school next year (committed to play at Division II St. Rose) and that’s a lot to be said as a senior. We’ve got one last season with her and we’ve been very, very close and I think Morgan knows more than anything how important it is for us to get back to Cortland, and she’ll be a big asset in helping us achieve that.”
Last November, after winning the program’s eighth straight Section II Class A title, BH–BL suffered a season-ending 1-0 loss to Jamesville-DeWitt in the regional playoffs at Fulton High School—a loss that has stuck with Burchhardt this offseason.
“We just couldn’t produce,” Burchhardt said. “We had a lot of chances; we just could not get back. I feel really bad about that game. I definitely want to go back to states. Especially going in ninth and tenth grade, we’re being expected to go and we didn’t so it was really weird. Ninth and tenth grade you don’t even realize what it is. I even took states for granted. I just thought it was another game. Especially as a freshman, I had no idea what was going on. You know, you get a patch if you win. You take everything for granted and last year it really hit me how much the games mean, especially when you lose early…This year, I don’t take anything for granted and I push myself a lot more.”
The Spartans have met up with Jamesville-DeWitt in November in each of the past four seasons. They lost to the Red Rams, 1-0, in last year’s Class A regionals, after a three-year stretch of beating them. BH–BL took down the Section III representative Red Rams in 2011 (3-0), 2010 (2-0) and 2009 when the Spartans won in a penalty-kick shoot-out.
“We will probably meet up with them again, so we’ll see,” Burchhardt said. “I’d like to beat them again. It’s always great.”
The Spartans lost their season opener to Shaker on Tuesday, but have a shot at their first win this weekend at Shenendehowa. In her final year as a Spartan, Burchhardt said she’s not worried about the team coming together and fulfilling the expectations of another sectional title.
“You definitely don’t want to be the team that year to break [the sectionals streak],” said Burchhardt, who also does indoor and outdoor track on the side. “I didn’t really realize how big soccer was because we’ve been winning it for so long that sectionals was just like a given. In indoor track, we came in third and it’s weird not winning because I’m used to winning sectionals. It’s bizarre, but I’m glad we can keep that legacy up and other teams look up to us because we’ve won so much.”
For Burchhardt, another sectional championship and a trip to the state semifinals will make 2013 a success. The reigning MVP doesn’t plan on letting up.
“Senior year you get out on the field and you’re going to do anything you can to win,” Burchhardt said. “You’re going to put your body out there and you’re going to pour your heart and soul into it. If you desire to get the ball, you’re going to get there.”