Seven starting positions will be up for grabs when Saratoga Springs’ reigning Suburban Council field hockey champions open preseason practice Monday.
“I know I lost a lot, but I also know there’s something there,” said veteran Blue Streaks coach Jo-Anne Hostig. “Hopefully, they can do it again.”
Hostig was talking about last season, when her team overcame the loss of several key players and captured the league title with a 13-1 record. The Blue Streaks followed that up with a run to the Section II Class A title game, and despite outplaying Shenendehowa, came out on the short end of a 1-0 score.
“I didn’t have high expectations because we lost to much, and look where we ended up,” Hostig said of her 2008 team, which posted a 16-3 overall record. “The way we came together was the key to the whole thing. I thought it was going to be a rebuilding year, and they put it all together.”
Could a repeat be forthcoming? Can the Blue Streaks make it two in a row as league champs? Can they get back to the sectional title game that they won in 2007?
“The girls want to see it continue,” said Hostig, who took her 2007 team to the state final four. “I expect we’ll go through some growing pains early on, but we’ve got 12 kids coming back and some real nice young players. It can happen if they put in the work, keep improving and mesh as a team. In this game, you never know.”
Hostig said Bethlehem and Niskayuna enter the season as the teams to beat in the Suburban Council. Saratoga opens its season Sept. 9 at Niskayuna, which won 10 games last year and features all-state senior forward Lindsay Mayo and senior defender Kelsey Leder.
“On paper, they have the most coming back. They’ll be the ones we have to catch, so to speak,” Hostig said of the Silver Warriors and the Eagles. “All of the other teams are in a similar situation where we have a lot of positions to fill. A lot of teams are young.”
Saratoga will be led by its four returning starters in all-state midfielder/defender Morgan Powell, goalkeeper Meredith Farley and forwards Carly Fuller and Mackenzie Knight. Fuller scored eight goals last year, including one in each of Saratoga’s postseason wins against Columbia and Bethlehem, while Powell had five goals and four assists while excelling defensively for a team that notched 12 shutouts.
“We’ll build around those four seniors,” said Hostig. “It’s a good group to build around.”
Saratoga’s returning cast also includes sophomore forward/midfielder Celia D’Agostino, who over the summer turned in a strong showing at the National Futures Championships, and earned an invitation to the 16-under Junior Olympic Games.
“We lost nine seniors, and seven of them were starters,” said Hostig. “A lot of the kids who played supporting roles last year will have different roles this year. It’s their turn to step up.”
Four teams in Super 25
Section II girls’ cross country is well represented on Marc Bloom’s 2009 Harrier Super 25 preseason national poll, with Saratoga Springs ranked No. 3, Shenendehowa No. 5, Queensbury No. 6 and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake No. 23.
New York has six schools among the 25, including No. 1 Fayetteville-Manlius, which returns four of its top five runners from a team that won its third consecutive state, Federation and Nike national championships in 2008.
Saratoga Springs has everyone back from its Nike Cross Nationals fourth-place team, led by all-staters Amanda Borroughs, Cassie Goutos, Keelin Hollowood, Sydney King and Brianne Bellon. The Blue Streaks had won 14 state titles and 16 Federation crowns, and finished as The Harrier’s No. 1 team nationally four times, before Fayetteville-Manlius’ recent display of dominance.
Shenendehowa has a strong returning group, led by all-state performers Lizzie Predmore, Danika Simonson, Nicole Irving, Cara Janeczko and Jordan Westcott. Predmore, a sophomore, is Section II’s only returning all-state Class AA first-team selection. She ran fourth at the 2008 state meet, one spot ahead of Goutos.
Queensbury has its top four back after placing fifth at the Nike Cross Nationals in Danielle Winslow, Brittany Winslow, Morgan Mueller and Carly Winn. Danielle Winslow placed third at the state Class A championships in 2008, with Burnt Hills’ top returnee, Molly Pezzulo, taking fifth.
Burnt Hills, eighth at the Nike Cross Nationals, also brings back all-staters Alyssa Drapeau, Riley Wilk, Kiersten Anderson and Stephanie Carrier. The Spartans lost stars Meghan Gregory and Sam Roecker from a team that has won the last three state Class A banners.
The North Shore (Long Island) girls are ranked No. 18 on the Super 25. On the boys side, Fayetteville-Manlius is ranked No. 3.
Reilly among the best
Christian Brothers Academy defenseman Jack Reilly is ranked No. 2 behind West Islip attacker Nicky Galasso on the recently released Inside Lacrosse Top 50 Young Guns Rising Seniors list.
Reilly, who has committed to Johns Hopkins, is one of seven players from New York listed among the top 10, and among 19 from the state.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Reilly was named a Big 10 first-team all-star for the third time last spring after helping the Brothers capture their sixth consecutive league championship. He scooped up 135 ground balls, scored three goals and assisted on three for the Section II Class A semifinalists.
Reilly, a Niskayuna resident, competed at the Under Armour All-America Classic Underclassmen Games this summer, and helped the Upstate New York team finish second.
With the addition of Ichabod Crane this year, the Section II football family has grown from 58 varsity teams in 2005 to 62. Hoosic Valley (2006), Cairo-Durham (2007) and Saratoga Catholic (2008) were the most recent schools to join the varsity ranks before Ichabod Crane, with Saratoga Catholic coming back after a 19-year hiatus. Hoosic Valley and Cairo-Durham had never fielded varsity teams before. Ichabod Crane went 1-7 at the junior-varsity level last fall, playing all of its games on the road. Coach Tim Stewart’s Riders are a member of the Class B Reinfurt Division, but will play a non-league schedule this season against Class C teams, starting with Cairo-Durham Sept. 4. . . .
The Stillwater Football Booster Club is sponsoring an alumni get-together at the high school for former players, coaches and cheerleaders prior to the Sept. 4 home opener against Cambridge. The event will start at 5 p.m., and the 7 p.m. game will be the first night contest at Stillwater, and the first on its new turf field. Stillwater alumni who register on the school’s Web site (www.scsd.org) before Wednesday will be recognized that evening. . . .
Rich Leach was selected to take over for Ron Smith as Bethlehem’s varsity football coach last November, leaving Section II with 12 changes in football leadership since the end of the 2008 season. A story in last week’s Gazette inadvertently omitted Leach from a list of area coaching changes. Leach has inherited a Bethlehem team that has had only one winning season (5-4 in 2005) since its Class AA championship run in 2001 (10-2). . . .
Plans are in the works for an all-star football game matching top seniors from New York (North vs. South) next June at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, according to Neil Kerr, editor/publisher of the New York State Sportswriters Association News.
Here and there
Shaker High School will conduct its fall sports information night on Wednesday, Sept. 2, starting at 7 p.m. The program is mandatory for parents of high-school level athletes. Parents will meet the fall sport coaches and receive team expectations information.
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Categories: High School Sports