Niskayuna ready to run with nationally ranked foe

Niskayuna takes on nationally ranked Garden City today in the state girls' lacrosse semifinals.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

They might need to keep some neck braces handy for the spectators at the Class B state semifinals this morning.

Niskayuna and Garden City both like to run, so the team that moves on to Saturday’s championship game will likely be the one that can slow down its opponent.

The Silver Warriors reached the state semis for the first time by running Saugerties off the field, 21-2, in the regional finals, and Garden City, ranked No. 9 in the country as of Wednesday by Laxpower.com, beat Rocky Point, 20-12.

“One thing we’ve been working on the last couple of days is stopping transition,” Niskayuna head coach Peter Melito said. “From looking at some tape, they’re a fast-break team, and their best player is Erin Brennan, so we’ve been working on doubling her.”

Niskayuna (15-5) and Section VIII’s Garden City (19-1), ranked No. 1 in the east region, will play at 9:30 a.m., and Guilderland (22-0)

will take on Section VIII’s Farmingdale (15-2) at 2:30 p.m. in a Class A semifinal at SUNY-Cortland.

The winning teams will play at the same times on Saturday.

As daunting a task as it will be to beat eight-time state champion Garden City, one thing in Niskayuna’s favor is that the Silver Warriors won’t be afraid to run with the Trojans.

“Guilderland is probably the closest we’ve seen to Garden City,” Melito said. “We can play that way. We can match that, but what we don’t want to happen is getting in a goal-to-goal game. We have to finish on our side.”

One key to hampering Garden City’s transition will be to win a high percentage of draws, but that won’t be easy.

“The big thing is coming up with that draw, but their center is going to North Carolina next year,” Melito said.

Laura Plis and Beth Halayko will split time taking faceoffs for the Silver Warriors. Plis won 21 of 23 draws in the victory over Saugerties.

Brennan and Caroline McTieman each scored four goals for Garden City against Rocky Point, and Shannon Mangini scored three.

Niskayuna has been getting offense from a variety of sources lately. Allie Pfohl scored five goals in a 13-12 victory over Yorktown, and Lee Pace scored a school-record nine goals against Saugerties.

“We are playing the best lacrosse we’ve played all year,” Melito said. “It’s all clicking at the right time. As the season went on, we had a couple of bumps, but we’ve gotten

focused during a tough time, when the kids have finals and some end-of-the-year things going on.”

Garden City beat Carthage, 16-8, to capture the 2007 state Class B title. Today’s other Class B semi­finalists are Carthage (Section III, 18-3) and Brighton (Section V,

18-1).

Guilderland ready

While Farmingdale has been to the state final four before, Guilderland, like Niskayuna, is a first-time participant.

“Our girls are anxious. They want to get out and play,” Guilderland coach Gary Chatnik said from Cortland. “Hopefully, when they get on the field, any nerves they have will go away.”

Chatnik believes the Lady Dutch have the skill and desire to make history. No Section II team has ever won a state title, Although Beth­lehem’s powerhouse teams did reach finals in 2003 and 2005. The 2003 team lost to West Genesee in the title game, 12-11, and the 2005 Eagles lost to Fayetteville-Manlius.

“We’ve played good teams before. We came down here with a purpose,” Chatnik said. “We came here to win. If we play our game, if we control the ball, play aggressive and confident and play defense, I have a good feeling things will work out.”

Guilderland is coming off a

19-3 victory over Kingston in which Danielle Tetreault scored six goals, Jen Madsen notched three and Amanda Santandrea made nine saves. The Lady Dutch built a

15-1 halftime lead, and for the 22nd straight game scored in double digits.

Farmingdale reached the Class A state semifinals by squeaking past Northport, 12-11, in overtime on Wednesday. Janine Hillier and Candace Rossi each scored three goals for Farmingdale.

“They’re good,” Chatnik said of Farmingdale. “They’re No. 3 in the state, and that’s a couple spots ahead of us. They’ve been the

final four the last couple of years. They’re fast, and they have good players. We’ll have to play very well to beat them.”

Farmingdale reached last year’s Class A final before losing to West Genesee, 8-4. West Genesee (Section III, 22-0) and Lancaster (Section VI, 20-2) are today’s other Class A semifinalists, with West Genesee carrying a 46-game win streak into its matchup.

“We haven’t looked past any team, and we’re not going to start now. We haven’t talked about anyone but Farmingdale,” Chatnik said. “Should we play well and advance, then we’ll deal with the next one. It’s first things first.”

Albany Academy for Girls was Section II’s first state championship-game participant in 1995 and lost in Division II to Garden City, 12-9.

“It would mean a lot to the girls, but also to the section,” Chatnik said of winning a state title. “We have so many wonderful players, coaches and teams, and I think we need a little respect. A championship would give us that.”

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