Babylon celebrates its victory over Saranac in the state Class B...

Babylon celebrates its victory over Saranac in the state Class B girls soccer semifinals in Cortland on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023.  Credit: /Heather Ainsworth

CORTLAND — They call themselves "The Energy Bus.”

Senior Brooke O’Halloran said coach Stuart Love read the team the Jon Gordon bestseller about overcoming adversity and remaining positive. The book has inspired Babylon's journey to the Class B girls soccer state finals as the Panthers defeated Saranac, 4-3, on penalty kicks after playing to a scoreless tie in regulation at Cortland High School on Saturday.

“Most of the seniors, it’s what we’ve been wanting this entire time,” O’Halloran said. “We’re called 'The Energy Bus,’ which is a book we read at the beginning of the season. So, that’s kind of what’s been pushing us and our energy and everything like that.”

The Panthers (11-5-3) will play Haverling in the final at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

O’Halloran did not play the majority of the 110 minutes of regulation but was ready when called upon for the penalty kick. She nailed her shot to the left side off the hands of Saranac’s goalkeeper in the fifth round to give Babylon the advantage. Saranac missed the ensuing shot off the right post, sending Babylon to the championship game.

“I just thought that I had to do it for my team,” O’Halloran said. “We have a motto, 'together,' so I knew I had to do it for them.”

Sophia Conti, Brooke Gengler and Lily Krollage also scored in penalty kicks for Babylon.

Freshman goalkeeper Gianna Durler made six saves during regulation and two overtimes as well as a diving stop in the penalty shootout in the third round.

“It’s very nerve-wracking,” Durler said. “But I just picked a side and hoped it was the right side … I kind of just go with the flow and see how the game plays out.”

Love said Saranac’s final penalty kick could have easily bounced in and that the Spartans were a tough opponent.

“[The Spartans] were great at being first to the ball,” Love said. “They were really aggressive and quick. The sweeper did a great job of dropping deep, but she didn’t stay there. She dropped deep at the right time. You couldn’t really get behind them.”

Love knows Sunday's final will be a battle against an experienced Haverling squad.

“The other team finished three hours ago,” Love said. “They get three hours extra rest. We played for 20 minutes more . . . They lost in the state final last year, so they’ve got experience.”

There will be one more chapter in Babylon's storybook season.


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