The third-seeded Spackenkill High School boys soccer team held off fourth-seeded John S. Burke Catholic, 1-0, to win its first Section 9 title since 2008 on Saturday at Faller Field.
Spackenkill (12-5-1) will face the Section 1 Class B champion in a regional semifinal next Saturday in Middletown at a time to be determined.
Spackenkill’s Alex Lanza got the Spartans on the board, dribbling into the box alone and beating goalkeeper Grayson Ross 14:12 into the period to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
Lanza partially tore his right meniscus in August, and missed the first 14 games of his senior year. He has played the last four games.
“It feels great to be back in the game and playing with my team,” Lanza said. “It was a good team effort. It feels good to be a part of this. Missing two months and getting that goal. I’m privileged. I can’t believe it.”
Spackenkill coach Manny Blanco said Lanza was deserving of scoring the championship-winning goal.
“Alex has been hurt all year,” Blanco said. “He’s been there at practice every day and on the bench traveling with us. Anything we had going on, Alex was there. He deserves it. I was so proud of him.”
Blake Kawalski made nine saves in the shutout.
The squads played a see-saw second half. With no shots registered and only a single Burke corner kick, Spackenkill’s Hamza Manane stripped the ball off the foot of Burke’s Marc Torres with 18 minutes left in the half.
“Coming into the year, we didn’t have great hopes,” Blanco said. “We had to battle for everything. We’ve won sections in the past, but this is one of the most special ones because these guys fought hard and they came together.”
Lanza thinks he and his Spackenkill teammates will be a difficult challenge for opponents in the state tournament.
“We’re going to be a real threat,” Lanza said. “Teams better watch out.”