TROY — Queensbury senior forward Peter Crawford just seems to have a knack for the big moments of a soccer match.
Through a scoreless tussle with fifth-seeded Albany Academy on Tuesday night, Crawford rose to the occasion by finding the back of the net with 33:15 remaining in the second half to lift the Spartans to a 1-0 Class A semifinal victory in the Section II Boys Soccer Tournament at La Salle Institute.
Top-seeded Queensbury (16-1), ranked third in the New York Sportswriter’s Association Class A poll, advances to meet third-seeded Burnt Hills (9-5-4) for the Section II championship on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Colonie High School.
The opening of the second half was a noticeable switch in favor of a more assertive Queensbury offense. After the Cadets held a 4-3 shot advantage in the first half, the Spartans came out with a sense of urgency by taking the first seven shots in the first 12 minutes.
Shots fired from the team’s leading scorer Teddy Borgos, Crawford, Sam Rawley and Brendan Duffy in succession amped up the pressure on the Cadets’ defense.
On the fifth consecutive try, Crawford made the move — showcasing nimble footwork and creating just enough space to get off his shot and get Queensbury on the board.
It was Crawford’s 14th goal of the season and it marked his second winning goal this month. It was also the first full game that Crawford had played in nearly three weeks.
Crawford likened his moment to a quote from NHL legend Wayne Gretzky about missing 100 percent of the shots not taken.
“I really don’t know,” said Crawford, when asked about scoring big goals in close games. “I noticed it myself. I feel like if I’m there and if I’ve got a shot — it’s a big moment — you got to take it. It doesn’t matter if it goes in or not. At least, you took that chance. You miss 100 percent of the shots that you don’t take.”
Queensbury also had to overcome some unexpected injuries to begin the game.
“The game just started kind of weird,” said Queensbury coach Pete Crotty. “We lose Alex (Roca) in first 20 seconds of the game. He’s our holding mid. He’s the rock of our midfield. We had to scramble right away and substitute guys in. We had some other guys cramping so it wasn’t the start that we wanted so we talked about starting over when we got to halftime.”
The Spartans held an 11-7 shots advantage, challenged the Cadets on defense and picked up another shutout by Ethan Willis (8 1/2 on the season).
“It’s an experienced group,” Crotty added. “I said to them at halftime that it seemed like we were the team that was here for the first time. I said to my leaders that it’s time to step up. We’ve got to settle things down, take control of the game and help the other guys get settled in. There wasn’t a lot that I could change tactically because I had so many players in and out. Alex (Roca), Peter (Crawford), Teddy (Borgos) and Lucas (McCane) — it’s their fourth final in a row coming up. We needed to lean on them and they came up big.”
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