In the second quarter of its season opener Saturday, Niskayuna showed just how good it can be at the offensive end of the field.
The Silver Warriors scored six straight times in just over seven minutes to pull away from a one-goal lead, and walked off Larry Mulvaney Field with a 10-2 non-league triumph against Schenectady.
Johnny Best delivered from close range 1:25 into the second period to pull the Patriots within 3-2 before the eight-time Section II champions put their skill and balance on display in the kind of run seen several times last year during their 21-game winning streak.
“We need to play like that for four quarters,” said Niskayuna All-American midfielder Dan McKinney, who finished with three goals and three assists. “Our main focus is to start off fast. It didn’t happen today, and in the second half, we just weren’t very good. We ran the same offense and had the same looks, but we didn’t finish.”
The big second quarter was more than enough on a cold and windy day, though, with senior midfielder Jared Franze picking up two goals, and McKinney contributing a goal and three assists in the outburst.
“The difference between the second quarter and the third and fourth quarters was we finished shots,” said Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang. “The second quarter is the way we’d like to play all year. The kids moved the ball, got their guys to move and shot well.”
“We lost their shooters in the crease,” said Schenectady goalkeeper Dan Desbiens, who tied his career high with 29 saves. “Take away those goals, and it’s a 4-2 game.”
Spencer Lichorat produced the only second-half goal, that coming with 3:02 left in the third quarter.
“To hold a high-powered offense to one goal in the second half is pretty good,” said Schenectady coach Dave Trahan. “Our kids are a resilient group. Being down, 9-2, they recommitted. That says a lot about these kids.”
Dan Flora gave Schenectady (1-2) a 1-0 lead with his eighth goal of the season before McKinney connected twice and Mark Panneton scored to close the first quarter. After Best beat James Manchester, the rest of the offensive highlights belonged to the Silver Warriors.
“It was a great experience for a first game,” said Vorgang. “We did some things well, and some things not so well. We’ll work on those things, and accentuate the positive things.”
Franze sandwiched goals around another by Panneton to extend Niskayuna’s lead to 6-2, and Colin Foster, Guy Waltman and McKinney followed with goals as the Silver Warriors went up, 9-2. McKinney, who will play next season at Georgetown, assisted on both goals by Franze and on Foster’s tally with pin-point passes.
“He’s a four-year varsity player. He’s been to three regional finals and two Empire State Games. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s ranked as one of the top 50 players by Inside Lacrosse,” Vorgang said of McKinney. “We’ll go as far as he goes.”
In pinning down Schenectady, Niskayuna received excellent performances from close defenseman Steve Abba, defensive midfielder Brendan Krol, longstick midfielder Ryan Alden and goalkeepers James Manchester and Stefan Sloma (10 saves combined).
“Our offense hasn’t clicked yet,” said Trahan, whose Patriots lost to Shaker, 2-1, earlier in the week. “It will. It’s going to come.”
McKinney was thinking the same thing. Niskayuna hosts Shaker Tuesday in a rematch from last year’s Section II Class A final, which the Silver Warriors won, 8-4.
“It should be a lot of fun. We’re looking forward to the rematch,” McKinney said. “We’re looking to play the whole game like we played the second quarter today.”
Niskayuna 3 6 1 0 — 10
Schenectady 1 1 0 0 — 2
Niskayuna scoring: Dan McKinney 3-3, Mark Panneton 2-0, Jared Franze 2-1, Colin Foster 1-0, Spencer Lichorat 1-0, Nolan Connors 0-1, Guy Waltman 1-0. Schenectady scoring: Dan Flora 1-0, Johnny Best 1-0.
Goalkeepers: Niskayuna, James Manchester, 6 saves; Stefan Sloma, 4 saves. Schenectady, Dan Desbiens, 29 saves.
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Categories: High School Sports