MIDDLETOWN — The sooner the Queensbury Spartans could look at things in the big picture, the less Sunday would hurt.
Vestal left no doubt as to whom the better team was. Binghamton University-bound Parker McKnight scored three goals to lead the Golden Bears (20-0) to a thorough 4-0 win over the Spartans in the Class A final of the State Boys Soccer Tournament at Middletown High School’s Faller Field.
Queensbury, shut out for the first time this season, ended its year 22-1 as the first team from the school to reach a state boys soccer final.
“We were feeling a little of last night,” Queensbury coach Pete Crotty said of its hard-earned semifinal win over a physical Garden City squad. “We didn’t have as much zip, but I have to give so much credit to Vestal. They’re an unbelievable team.
“I’ve been down here a few times over the years watching other games, and I’ve not seen too many teams better than they are,” Crotty said. “I was saying to my coaches, ‘Where do we attack this? Where is their weak spot?’ And I was, like, I don’t see one. They were strong in every position.”
McKnight, a forward, scored his first goal just 9 minutes, 47 seconds into the game when he collected his own rebound.
His second goal will end up on a few highlight shows. With 6:02 left in the half, he went through and around five Queensbury defenders and put a left-footed blast past Queensbury goalkeeper Charles Vergneres, who made eight saves and kept matters from becoming worse.
Queensbury started the first two minutes of the first half well, but couldn’t turn it into a quality shot on goal. Then, 4:22 into the second half, Dan Mansfield scored off a short corner kick play to make it 3-0.
McKnight’s third goal was just as pretty as his second. He received Corey Barr’s corner kick out from the near post and one-timed the ball into the upper near corner.
“He just beat us to the spot, but the touch he got on it to flick it into the corner was what made it good,” Crotty said.
Crotty felt his team was dangerous if it got space, but it just couldn’t create good shots.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Crotty said. “I said to my kids if you’re going to lose, lose to the better team, and tonight it was pretty clear they were the better team.”
The Spartans will graduate or lose eight players, including leading scorer Greg Maccharulo, star midfielder Matt Ricciardelli, top defender Joe Drahos and Vergneres, a foreign-exchange student from France, along with Alejandro Garcia, Gavin Coughlan, Zach Wiekierak and Julian Tushabe.
The loss was still in the stinging stage for Maccharulo, but he also knew its significance.
“It was always a goal,” he said of the state final. “To actually be here is another thing. We always wanted to get here. To be here is amazing.”
“Hopefully,” Crotty said, “they’ll look back on this, and like I said last night, ‘Holy cow, we’re playing for the state championship. How good can this get?’ ”
Class A State Final
Queensbury (22-1) 0 0 — 0
Vestal (20-0) 2 2 — 4
First half — 1, Vestal, Parker McKnight, 9:47. 2, Vestal, Parker McKnight, 33:58.
Second half — 3, Vestal, Dan Mansfield, 44:22. 4, Vestal, Parker McKnight (Corey Barr), 53:12.
Goalies-saves — Charles Vergneres (Qby) 8, Evan Hoffman (V) 1.