Warriors, trailing, respond with defense

The Nisk­ayuna boys’ lacrosse team battled back and prevailed Tuesday in its first bout with adversi
PHOTOGRAPHER:

The Nisk­ayuna boys’ lacrosse team battled back and prevailed Tuesday in its first bout with adversity.

“I think we needed a tough game to see what we’re made of,” Nisk­ayuna senior midfielder Jared

Franze said after his team’s 6-2 Suburban Council triumph at Shenendehowa. “We needed a game like this to see how we’d respond.”

After two first-quarter goals by Shenendehowa, the response was emphatic.

The Silver Warriors played shutout ball over the final 36 minutes, and Franze pumped in five goals for the third time in his career as Section II’s top Class B team remained unbeaten through six contests.

Dan McKinney had the other goal for Niskayuna and set up

Franze twice, while netminders James Manchester and Stefan Sloma combined for nine saves.

“We haven’t had any adversity until today. We needed that,” Nisk­ayuna coach Mike Vorgang said. “It was good for us to get the feeling of being down a little bit where we have to score, make a big save, get a big ground ball.”

Brandon Connors and Brendan Dion connected in the first quarter for Shenendehowa before the eight-time Section II champions rallied and beat another Class A contender and Blue Division foe, following wins over two others in Guilderland

(15-2) and Shaker (6-0).

“We made a lot of silly penalties in that second quarter and that let Niskayuna grab the momentum, and we had a lot of turnovers after that,” said Shenendehowa coach Chuck Holohan. “We didn’t focus enough during this game.”

Franze said Niskayuna (5-0 league, 6-0 overall), the state sportswriter’s No. 5-ranked Class B team, regained its composure after being outscored in the first quarter for the first time this season.

Franze started the comeback with two goals 26 seconds apart early in the second quarter before

McKinney pushed the Silver Warriors ahead at the 8:44 mark.

“We came out all pumped up and had so much adrenaline, and we made too many mental errors,” the Hartford-bound Franze said

after increasing his season goal total to 18. “As a team, we did not play all that well, then we calmed down and played our game, and played better.”

Franze scored with 4:58 left in the third quarter, and added a pair of goals 59 seconds apart in the fourth for his second five-goal performance this year. Franze did his damage on nine shots.

“His first goal, which got us

going, and his one in the third quarter to make it 4-2, they were huge goals,” Vorgang said. “They were two great shots, stick high. He’s our best shooter, and we expect him to score those goals.”

“After the first quarter, I’m thinking, ‘It’s a game. We’ve got to score some goals,’ ” Franze said. “After the first quarter, we started to aim for the net and not the corners so much. We were being a little too fancy.”

Niskayuna outshot Shenendehowa (3-2, 4-2) in the first quarter, 12-4, and in the game, 39-13.

“We ran some good offensive sets and had some good looks. We just didn’t shoot well,” said Vorgang. “But generating that many shots is a good sign.”

Connors made good on a shot 59 seconds into the game after taking a pass from Anthony Zappone, and a wide-open Dion turned a Niskayuna turnover into another goal with 37 seconds left in the opening period after taking a pass from Mike Jenkins.

“They scored one goal off a turnover and one off a defensive mistake,” Vorgang said. “Our defensive midfielder didn’t rotate on that first one, and Shenendehowa made a great skip pass.”

Niskayuna’s defense locked down after that, though, with crease defensemen Steve Abba, Josh Martin and John Quinn coup­ling effectively with long-stick midfielder Ryan Abba and short-stick middies Brendan Krol and Brendan Montrello.

“The strength of our team is defense. They’ve been doing a good job. Four goals is the most any team has scored on us,” said Vorgang. “When we struggle offensively, like we did today, we know we can fall back on our defense.”

Holohan was pleased with his defense, as well. Standout soph­omore Bob Wardwell finished with 13 saves, and got solid support from crease defenders Andrew Dorsey, Owen Jarem and Ed Francis, long- stick midfielder Kyle Schafer and short-stick middies Brendan Wall and Nick Campanella.

“Our defense gave up six goals. You’ve got to be happy with that. In this game, that’s not too bad,” said Holohan. “The problem, again, was offense. This is the third game where we gave up six goals, and we’ve lost two of them. Our offense has been in a little bit of a slump.

“I will say we did play hard and we did compete. The effort was there. It was the little things that killed us today.”

Silver Warriors’ faceoff man Mike Hall and Connors, who transferred from Niskayuna to Shenendehowa this year, both won six

faceoffs in their head-to-head duel.

Niskayuna 0 3 1 2 — 6

Shenendehowa 2 0 0 0 — 2

Niskayuna scoring: Jared Franze 5-0, Dan McKinney 1-2, Justin McKinney 0-1. Shenendehowa scoring: Brandon Connors 1-0, Anthony Zappone 0-1, Brendan Dion

1-0, Mike Jenkins 0-1.

Goalkeepers: Niskayuna, James Manchester, 5 saves; Stefan Sloma, 4 saves. Shenendehowa, Bob Wardwell, 13 saves.

Categories: High School Sports

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