Canajoharie advances to Class C semifinals

CANAJOHARIE – The Canajoharie Lady Cougars didn’t score 14 goals like they did in their first-round sectional matchup against Hadley-Luzerne, but a tidy 3-0 victory over the Berlin Lady Mountaineers Tuesday was more than good enough to send them to the Section II Class C semifinals.

After being bounced in the first round of last year’s tournament, Canajoharie’s 14-0 victory last Thursday seemed to do wonders for the team entering Tuesday’s action.

“It definitely lifted that nervousness feeling because I think the whole week going into it we were nervous,” said Canajoharie head coach Ellee Fichthorn. “We needed to show everybody else we do belong here.”

Berlin showed signs of offensive prowess early in the game. Leading goal scorers Jewel Pietryk and Maggie Gordon kept the Lady Cougars defense busy in the first 10 minutes.

“We adjusted during the game to see what was going to work today,” said Fichthorn. “Their girls up top were very fast and we had to adjust our defense to that.”

Pietryk and Gordon each sent shots on goal that were saved by Canajoharie goalkeeper Lauren Balfe in the first 10 minutes. Gordon shot another ball with 28 minutes remaining that was saved by Balfe and turned out to be Berlin’s final shot attempt of the half.

Canajoharie lofted the ball over the top of the Berlin defense for their leading scorer Jenelle Dillenbeck frequently, something the Lady Cougars are not accustomed to doing.

“We’re not normally able to send it over the top and go one-on-one over and over with the goalie, and that was something that worked for us today.”

Dillenbeck took the ball down the left sideline and beat a defender before netting the first goal of the game with 24 minutes remaining in the half. Four minutes later, Dillenbeck headed a crossed ball past Berlin goalkeeper Jodi Thomas to extend Canajoharie’s lead.

Canajoharie dominated the time of possession for the remainder of the half on their way to outshooting the Lady Mountaineers 13-3. Dillenbeck nearly collected the rebound of a shot by Jordyn Logan that bounced off the post with nine minutes remaining, but the ball was cleared by the Berlin defense to end the threat.

The Canajoharie defense excelled throughout the game, limiting runs by Berlin and turning balls away well before girls were in position to shoot.

The second half saw Berlin only manage two shots on goal. Andrea Dingman, who came in to replace Balfe to begin the half, saved them both.

Logan registered an early goal for Canajoharie to give the Lady Cougars a 3-0 lead. The slow roller off the foot of Logan slipped through the hands of Thomas and trickled into the goal. Canajoharie squandered a chance to push their lead to 4-0 with 19 minutes remaining in the half. Dillenbeck beat three Berlin defenders before stepping on the ball with open space in front of her. Canajoharie did less offensively in the half but cruised to the victory.

“I would say we had a little bit of speed on them, they had some very quick girls though,” said Fichthorn. “It was a tough game for us. I thought their passing was very good and we had some time periods where we let down a little bit. These girls are very good at adjusting to different situations and today they did an excellent job with that.”

Canajoharie outshot Berlin 20-5 in the contest.

Thomas made seven saves for Berlin, while Balfe and Dingman made three and two saves, respectively.

The Lady Cougars will be in Lansingburgh on Saturday to take on the two seeded Hoosic Valley Lady Indians. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 with the winner advancing to the Class C finals on Nov. 6.