DRYDEN, N.Y. (WROC) — The Spencerport girls soccer team has waited a long time to once again raise a state championship plaque.
They were shut out in the championship game in 2019. In 2018, 2021, and 2022, they were eliminated in the state semifinals. Last year, the ousting came via penalty kicks. Four straight trips to Cortland only to come back empty-handed.
That changed on Sunday morning as the Rangers took down Smithtown West (XI) 2-0 to capture the Class AA state title.
“It’s surreal. It’s truly an outstanding moment,” said senior goalkeeper Cate Burns. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. These last two years, we kind of fell short. This year we got it done. I think every single person on that team is a testament to that grit that we had.”
“I feel like we just wanted it,” said junior midfielder Lindsay Lenhard. “We have had some setbacks the last few years and we just wanted it. We came together in the beginning of the season and we just wanted to win and this team has just done a great job of doing that.”
The Bulls controlled play for the first 25 minutes, but things changed near the end of the first half.
With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, the Rangers earned a free kick. Lenhard sent a service into the box which found the head of Emily Peacock on its way to the back of the net.
“I wasn’t really nervous,” said Peacock. “I knew that if we didn’t score or if we did, my defense had me no matter what. I had to do my part. They did their part. It just ended up working out.”
“The other team came out really strong. We weren’t really prepared for that,” said Lenhard. “To be able to settle back down and relax and be able to get a goal before the first half ended, it was really nice to be able to put one in the back of the net and go into the second half up 1-0.”
The Rangers controlled most of the play in the second half and were rewarded with another goal midway through the frame.
Carley Oakden sent a cross into the box for Emma Watson, who headed it toward the net. The ball hit the post and deflected off the Smithtown West keeper for the final goal of the game.
“Their midfield was terrific,” said Spencerport head coach Jamie Schneider. “They pressed us the hardest that any team has ever pressed us. In the midfield to not take control of the game, it was difficult. But eventually, we settled down, found some feet, got some rhythm, and made some good decisions on the ball.”
Senior center back Kendall Mesh was named Spencerport’s Most Outstanding Player. Burns was named the Top Keeper of the Tournament, as the pair led the Ranger defense to their 20th clean sheet of the season. Burns made three saves in the victory.
“This team has performed so well from the start,” said Schneider. “This is a really special group. To win a championship, perform the way they did, with the record of 23-0 and the goal differential. It’s really a special group of athletes and kids.”
Spencerport outscored its opponents by a combined total of 102-3, with the senior-heavy team showing its dominance all season long.
“We had 17 seniors this year. It feels great, but it’s also sad because we’re leaving them,” said Peacock. “At the same time, we did it for them. It feels great winning.”
“To all of those 17 seniors including myself, it’s just a great moment,” said Burns. “We’ve been working towards this since we were little, since I was three years old playing Spencerport soccer. Now we’re all 17. I’m just so proud of them.”
“I think this group, two things— they are really great soccer players, really good athletes,” said Schneider. “But their leadership was just terrific. They just were all invested in putting it all together.
“It’s been a great group of girls since I was young. It means the world to us,” Burns said “I think every single one of them knows that and we wanted to get it done. That’s why we proved to be the better team today because we just wanted it.”
This is the third state title in program history for the Rangers. In 2016 they won the title outright and in 2017 they were co-champions.
“You know how difficult it is,” said Schneider. “Once you gain that experience of the first couple, you realize how difficult it is and how everything is going to have to come together. A lot of work and a lot of great athletes. It does get more difficult, but what an accomplishment.”