If the Section II Class A field hockey semifinals had set up anything besides a Saratoga Springs vs. Shenendehowa matchup for Sunday’s title game, it would have been a shock.
Still, it weighed on the No. 1 Plainsmen to hold up their end of the bargain Wednesday and dispatch No. 5 Niskayuna.
“We were thinking, ‘Sunday, Sunday, Sunday,’ ” admitted Shenendehowa’s Taryn Marra, referring to when the championship will be played. “But we had to win this game to get to Sunday.”
After a start that head coach Jeanne Frevola termed “sloppy,” Shenendehowa used a big second-half performance earn its berth to Sunday’s title game against No. 2 Saratoga Springs. The Plainsmen topped Niskayuna 5-0, with four of those scores coming after intermission.
Eliza Branch, a sophomore, scored Shenendehowa’s only first-half goal with 18:24 left in the stanza off a pass from Marra. But, despite attempting 12 penalty corners in the opening 30 minutes, the Plainsmen entered halftime needing a break.
“We came out with a lot of energy, but we were nervous,” Marra said.
“We all just took a deep breath, relaxed, [took] a moment to compose ourselves,” Shenendehowa’s Emily Fraser said. “We stayed very composed and did a lot better with that in the second half.”
Marra scored Shenendehowa’s first two goals in the second half, each within the first 10 minutes of play, off assists from Alyssa Bush and Fraser. The Plainsmen later added scores from Fraser and Carli Pelletier, who each assisted the other’s goal.
“Sometimes,” Frevola said, “they just need to refocus.”
For Niskayuna, the season-ending loss was a frustrating one that saw the team rarely able to go on the attack in a contest in which Shenendehowa registered 25 penalty corners.
“One corner after another is definitely tough,” Niskayuna head coach Alison Broomhead said. “It starts to play mind games on you. My team is pretty [mentally strong] and mentally tough, but the skill has to follow it.”
Now, Shenendehowa and Saratoga Springs — which topped Shaker in its semifinal — will meet for the second consecutive year in the title game. The Plainsmen topped the Blue Streaks twice during the 2015 regular season and own the higher seed for this year’s postseason, but Fraser said her team will consider itself the underdog for Sunday’s 2 p.m. game at Schuylerville High School.
“They’re the defending champs, they’ve got to defend their title — and we’re out to get them,” Fraser said.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports