Originally published in the Albany Times Union - By Dylan Rossiter
The Maple Hill boys' varsity soccer team advanced to the regional finals Tuesday in a 1-0 victory over Lake Placid.
The Wildcats (20-0-1) came out on top off the hot feet of senior Garrett Axtmann.
Nicknamed the "red tornado" by his third-grade bus driver for the mischief he caused, he was able to wreak some havoc at the net, putting the winning goal in with 14 minutes remaining in the first half.
"It came off the keeper, (Alec) Yager set him up and he [Axtmann] just nailed that sucker," said Maple Hill head coach Dan Gillespie.
For Axtmann, the goal was more than just another goal. It was his 39th of the season, and even more auspiciously, the 100th of his career.
"It felt good. I've been working for four years. This is the team I want to go all the way with. I'm with my best friends and I think we're playing some of the best soccer Maple Hill has seen in a while," said Axtmann. "We haven't won a sectional title in five years, we knocked that off the list. We haven't won regionals in five years and that's next on the list. We want to keep going with this."
Through thick and thin, the Blue Bombers continued to challenge the Wildcats but they were no match for Maple Hill keeper Lucas Bordeau.
"Most of the season he didn't get a lot of tough shots, other than some set plays and things like that," Gillespie said. "He's been showing his quickness, maturity level and how much he's improved since his sophomore year. It's unbelievable."
The junior finished the game with 11 saves. "I just used my fundamentals and my defense helped me out a lot too," Bordeau said. "They were a really good team. When they started to outplay us it was tough for us, but we pulled through."
For Gillespie, the win is yet another in a laundry list of postseason victories. "We got that one busted through, Garrett made a nice hard shot," Gillespie went on to say. "In the beginning, they had the momentum a lot with their passing game. Then it went back and forth, but we held on."
Maple Hill will now take on Potsdam, the Section X champion, at Colonie High Schoolon Saturday. The game's start time will be released in the coming days, but for now is undetermined.
No matter when the Wildcats play on Saturday, their driving force will remain the same: "Playing for Robert Horan." The widely known and well respected Superintendent of Schodack Schools, Horan passed away unexpectedly this summer, the result of a sudden fatal heart attack.
"He's with us. I can feel it and I think everyone else can," added Axtmann. "He's been on our shoulder the whole way. Sometimes I don't know how we came out with these wins. I really think he's pushing us through these wins."
Expect Horan's presence to continue to shine on Saturday.