Warriors clamp down on defense, 5-4

Niskayuna overcomes a 4-2 deficit with defense and defeats Guilderland, 5-4, in a battle of Suburban
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Guilderland had success against Niskayuna’s new-look defense Tuesday afternoon, but it came and went, just like that.

“That’s the best defense we’ve played as a unit all year,” coach Mike Vorgang said after his Silver Warriors won the Suburban Council battle of unbeatens, 5-4. “They scored four goals, but two were in transition, and we were a man down for another. Only one was in a 6-on-6 situation.”

Guilderland struck for its four goals in less than four minutes to take a 4-2 lead in the second quarter. The Silver Warriors got stingy after that, and got goals from Massachusetts-bound Steve D’Amario, Will McPartlon and Seth Berggren in a comeback victory against their biggest rival.

“In the first half, we had a few breakdowns,” said Berggren, a sen­ior midfielder. “We missed a few slides, and some guys weren’t going as hard as they could. We definitely corrected that.”

After E.J. Genzano had given Guilderland (5-1 league, 6-1 overall) its 4-2 advantage, Niskayuna (5-0, 7-0) held the Dutchmen scoreless for the final 28:29 behind goalie James Manchester, close defenseman Paul Sapia, Steve Abba, Alex Billen-Calhoun and Josh Martin, longstick midfielders Ryan Alden and John Quinn, and shortstick middie Zach Frohne.

“I thought they really settled down,” said Manchester, Niskay­una’s only returning defensive starter, who finished with nine saves. “After that run, they started to pressure out a little more. Guilderland’s attack is skilled but small, and our guys caused a lot of turnovers against them.”

Those turnovers, some forced and some not, had Guilderland coach Sean McConaghy scratching his head afterward.

“That’s the worst display I’ve seen this year,” said McConaghy, whose Dutchmen hadn’t scored less than seven goals in a game before Tuesday. “I have no explan­ation [for the turnovers]. Maybe they were nervous, maybe … I don’t know. It’s not like it’s their first big game.

“You can’t let a great team have the ball the whole game like we did.”

Quinn Connell began Guilderland’s offensive flurry with 8:18 left in the second quarter. Aaron Cahill scored 63 seconds after that to tie it, and Rory Nunamacher tallied during a man-up at the 6:10 mark before Genzano made it 4-2 at the 4:29 mark.

“We didn’t turn the ball over in those four minutes,” McConaghy said. “We passed the ball and

created transition. That’s the only time we did that all game.”

Guilderland managed only 20 shots to Niskayuna’s 34. The Dutchmen had only one good scoring opportunity in the third quarter when Collin Burg attempted to stuff the ball between the left pipe and Manchester, but the junior goalie made a forearm save.

On Guilderland’s last two shots in the final minute, one never made it through Niskayuna’s defense, and another sailed wide.

“In the beginning of the season, our defense was a little young, but they’re coming together,” said Manchester. “This game and our last game, we held down two very good teams.”

Niskayuna knocked off four-time defending Massachusetts state champion Duxbury Saturday,

12-7, before beating Guilderland for the third time in four games going back to last season.

“Duxbury is ranked in the top 20 nationally. To win a game like that was great. It did give us confidence,” said Manchester. “Coach said if we can beat them, we can beat these guys, too.”

D’Amario beat Guilderland netminder Nick Koss with 2:21 left in the second quarter, and assisted on McPartlon’s tying goal 25 seconds after that.

“Lacrosse is a game of runs. They made their run, and we came back,” said Vorgang. “I thought D’Amario’s goal was big. He made a big play to get us back on track. That’s what you expect from your best senior attackman.”

Berggren was playing attack when he beat Koss for the game-winning goal with 7.6 seconds left in the third quarter, rather than midfield.

“I had just put him in at attack because he’s very good in the open field, and very athletic,” Vorgang said of the senior. “He found himself in an unsettled situation, and made me look good when he scored.”

“I saw my guy off to the right, out of position,” Berggren said. “I cut it inside and could have passed off, but I bounced it low and, thank God, it went in.”

Jared Franze scored a pair of first-quarter goals for Niskayuna, which beat Guilderland in the last three Section II Class A title games. Koss made 21 stops for the Dutchmen in the matchup between state-ranked teams.

Guilderland 0 4 0 0 — 4

Niskayuna 2 2 1 0 — 5

Guilderland scoring: Quinn Connell 1-2, Aaron Cahill 1-0, Rory Nunamacher 1-0, E.J. Genzano 1-0, Paul Jones 0-1. Niskayuna scoring: Jared Franze 2-0, Dan McKinney 0-1, Steve D’Amario 1-1, Will McPartlon 1-0, Seth Berggren 1-0.

Goalkeepers: Guilderland, Nick Koss, 21 saves. Niskayuna, James Manchester, 9 saves.

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