SOUTH GLENS FALLS — One of the South Glens Falls field hockey team’s goals for this season was to return to the sectional finals.
The Bulldogs are one step closer, but standing in their way is the team that beat them in last year’s championship. But with the way South High played Thursday in a 5-1 Class B quarterfinal win over Glens Falls, it should have adequate confidence in this Section II Field Hockey Tournament.
Third-seeded South High (8-4) scored twice in the first six minutes and never seemed to let its foot off the gas pedal. Its reward is a date at Burnt Hills on Oct. 31. The Spartans topped the Bulldogs 3-0 last year.
Freshman Jillian Willis scored the first four goals, with her older sister Lauren, a junior, assisting on three of them. Lauren Willis finished with four assists.
“We want to get the first goal so we can get ahead of them early,” Jillian Willis said. “This is what we’re kind of capable of. I think some people really did step up today. Others will step up against Burnt Hills, and hopefully we’ll come out with the win there.”
Lauren Willis’ first aerial bounced past one Glens Falls defender and Jillian Willis gathered it, carried it in a bit and fired a shot to the far side of the goal for a 1-0 lead 2 minutes, 31 seconds into the game.
South High struck again three minutes later when Lauren Willis sent a cross-goal pass to Mia Benincasa, who sent a short pass to Jillian Willis.
“To jump on them is our goal,” South High coach Mary Ponda said. “Try to score first and get some corners as quickly as possible, and we got a couple three to four minutes in. That set the tone.”
Jessica Betts assisted South High’s third goal of the first half. Glens Falls (1-11) had the ball a few times down in South High’s defensive zone, but could not sustain possession long enough to be a threat.
The Bulldogs’ two second-half goals both came on penalty corners, with Lauren Willis blasting shots on goal or hard passes from the top of the circle. On the first one, Jillian tipped it in and Katelyn Klotz gathered the second and poked it in.
South High has a good mix of experience and youth — as young as eighth grade — but Ponda said the key is Lauren Willis.
“She’s just like a quarterback out there,” Ponda said. “She knows the game well, is always helping out. Her big hits, aerials, passing game — we kind of feed off her.”
Ponda also noted the play of halfback Cassidy Doescher and senior goalie Taylor Hayes, the latter of whom only needed to make three saves, but two impressive ones came in quick succession during the second half.
Haylee Girard scored for Glens Falls with 4:10 left.
The Bulldogs know the Spartans, the seven-time defending Class B sectional champs, will be a big step up in competition.
“We have to give our all the whole time, full effort, have confidence and trust in each other and a positive attitude,” Jillian Willis said.
Follow Will Springstead on Twitter @WSpringsteadPSV.
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