ALDEN — And the beat goes on for Barker field hockey.
The top-seeded Lady Raiders had a dominating performance over No. 6 Eden in Tuesday’s Section VI Class C championship game, earning a 4-0 victory for its second straight title. It is the program’s 15th Section VI championship since 2001, earning it another trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Far West Regionals.
Barker (16-3) and Eden (7-11) both came to play defensively early on, with the first goal of the game only coming with two minutes left to play in the first half. Offensive playmaker Katrina Clare set Rachel Hurtgam up for the score and the Lady Raiders built momentum from there.
Hurtgam notched her second goal of the game just under 10 minutes into the second half, then Clare put things away with a pair of goals, her last with just four seconds to play.
Barker head coach Jeff Costello felt as though Hurtgam’s first half goal really took a burden off of his players’ shoulders.
“I think it took a little bit of the pressure off. (In) the halftime talk, they were pretty relaxed,” Costello said. “It was nice for us to get a lead and play with a lead, instead of playing from behind. Because last year, we did a lot of having to come back. So they had been talking about that and I definitely think that getting that goal, especially before halftime, allowed them to kind of exhale during halftime.”
The Lady Raiders’ defensive prowess can no longer be ignored; Barker has recorded seven consecutive shutouts and 11 total on the season, allowing just one goal since Sept. 24.
“Kaedynce Schumacher, I’ve gotta mention her name because she does not get recognition. She doesn’t score, but she’s just steady,” Costello said. “... She’s our left midfielder and she’s just done a great job for us. Her, Maddie Gancasz in the middle, and Lena Fazzolari.
“Our midfielders and our defense, the play of all those positions has been elevated this year and it’s just, basically, the experience. We’re better with the run that we went on last year with them being in those pressure situations.”
Hurtgam’s two-goal outing was her second of the season and she was able to reflect on another victorious moment.
“Today was a big game knowing that it could be my last season or my last game playing in Barker at all,” the senior said. “I love the game, I love my team, I love the sport, I love my coaches, I love everything about it. So I came out here (and) worked hard. Our team worked hard. We love blue, we came out and we’re ready to go to states, ready to go to regionals, ready to win.”
Winning on Alden High School’s blue turf means Barker will face off with Section V’s East Rochester in this weekend’s Far West Regionals. Having played overtime regional games against the Bombers in 2016 and 2018, Hurtgam knows what type of challenge they pose.
“We’ve played them multiple times. They’re a good team. They’re a very good team,” Hurtgam said. “We’ve just gotta come out hard like we did (Tuesday), we’ve gotta score early, (and) just work hard. We can do it, we got it.”
The Far West Regional matchup will start at 11 a.m. Saturday at Williamsville North High School.
For more from sports reporter Khari Demos, follow him on Twitter @riri_demos. Also, tune in to Khari as a guest on Tony Caligiuri’s ‘Inside High School Sports,’ 10 a.m. Saturdays on WGR550.