Schenectady lacrosse isn’t likely to make some miraculous leap forward this spring, but its coaches and athletes believe winning a few more games and building a solid base to work from is a real possibility.
They’ll be looking to do so as two of the new members of the Suburban Council, which is among several Section II stick league’s that this season will have a different look.
“Going into big games, you’ve got to keep your heads up. Confidence is key,” Schenectady senior defenseman and longstick midfielder Omar Noori said. “Believing in yourself is half the battle. Sports is half mental.”
On a chilly afternoon last week, there was a bounce in their steps on both sides of Larry Mulvaney Field as the Schenectady boys worked out at one end and the girls drilled at the other.
“Different year. Different coach,” Schenectady senior midfielder Carissa Gholson said. “Compared to last year, the girls’ enthusiasm seems to be high. There’s a lot of energy.”
First-year girls’ coach Keith Pollizatto is a big part of that. He’s been emphasizing growth and the possibilities that lay ahead rather than dwelling on the past few years that were dotted with a few wins when the Patriots were members of the Capital District Women’s Lacrosse League.
“Talent-wise, we’ve got girls who have played before, but it’s an inexperienced varsity,” he said. “We’ve got to groom them and point them in the right direction. We’re excited. They’re excited.”
Pollizatto saw that exuberance in the winter months and continues to as his Patriots build toward their debut in the Suburban Council that includes fellow newcomer Albany, a first-year varsity team.
“We had 20 girls show up for intramurals every week,” he said. “We’ve got the girls working in the weight room. We’ve got the parents buying into it and supporting us. It’s a positive atmosphere.”
“Girls aren’t used to pushing themselves,” Gholson, a three-year varsity player, said. “We’re doing new things, like getting in the weight room. We’re doing a lot of agility work and shooting drills, and that really helps. You can see a tremendous change. Each day, we’re getting stronger and stronger.”
The Suburban Council is considered one of the strongest league’s in New York, with Niskayuna, Guilderland, Shaker, Saratoga Springs, Shenendehowa and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake fielding the state’s top girls’ teams in recent years.
“We may surprise a couple of teams,” Pollizatto said. “It’s not going to be 25-0 every game.”
Both Schenectady teams enjoyed their last winning seasons in 2011, and both of them posted a sectional victory that spring. The Schenectady boys played an independent schedule last season after a lengthy run in the Big 10, which disbanded following the 2013-14 school year.
“The kids are going to see a higher level of talent,” Schenectady boys’ coach Matt Marotta said. “They’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Marotta said there are difficult matchups ahead, but winnable games, too, in a league that has other former Big 10 members Troy and Christian Brothers Academy coming in, as well as a new varsity squad from Albany, and another from Averill Park.
“Our defense is young, but we’ve got our two leading scorers [Alex Rodriguez, Geo Kelso] back, which will help,” said Marotta, whose team has averaged five wins over the last four seasons. “We’ll definitely be in some games. We’re going to have some success.”
Noori said it’s important to gain something when the Patriots do not.
“Going up against a superpower like Niskayuna, there’s probably going to be some tough times out there,” he said. “You want to get something out of it. You’ve got to take it as a learning experience, and use what you’ve learned in future games.”
Former boys’ lacrosse independents LaSalle Institute and Albany Academy have joined former Wasaren League members Lansingburgh and Voorheesville to form the Colonial Council. Johnstown, Greenwich, Hoosick Falls, Cambridge and Maple Hill will continue to compete in the Wasaren League.
The boys’ Foothills Council structure remains the same as last year, with Scotia-Glenville, Glens Falls, Queensbury, Schuylerville, Amsterdam and South Glens Falls.
Catholic Central’s first-year varsity girls’ team will play in the new Colonial Council, which will also include former Capital District Women’s Lacrosse League members Albany Academy, Emma Willard, Holy Names, Hoosick Falls and Cohoes.
The girls’ Foothills Council look is unchanged with Scotia-Glenville, Glens Falls, Queensbury, Schuylerville, Greenwich, South Glens Falls and Johnston.
IN THE WORKS
Section II boys’ lacrosse coordinator Bob Gula said enrollment breakdown numbers for the first four-class New York State Public High School Athletic Association boys’ and girls’ tournaments in 2017 have been submitted to the organization’s executive committee for review.
“The projections are for the following year ,” Gula, a member of the boys’ state lacrosse committee, said last week. “We tried to make it as close as 25 percent for each class as we could. We should hear back within a month.”
The state executive committee approved four classes for the NYSPHSAA tournaments at its Jan. 29 meeting after a recommendation by the state boys’ and girls’ lacrosse committees.
“We found a big gap in some of the classes. Some schools are playing much bigger schools,” Gula, who coaches the Scotia-Glenville varsity boys, said. “This really got serious over the summer. After we had some discussion, we asked the girls if they would be interested in going to four classes, too. They were.”
The boys’ state tournament has been played in three classes since 2000, and the girls’ state tournament has been played in three classes since 2005.
The breakdown for this year’s tournaments: Boys Class A 1,000-up, Class B 590-999, Class C/D 589-below. Girls Class A 1,050-up, Class B 650-1,049, Class C 649-below.
“With four classes, it gives more schools and more kids an opportunity to get a state championship,” Gula added.
Shenendehowa is ranked No. 2 behind Poly Prep (Brooklyn) and ahead of James Monroe (Bronx) on the Prep Baseball Report’s preseason top-25 list of teams from the state of New York.
The list includes teams from all classifications and state organizations, and is based on several factors including last year’s record, this year’s team make-up, impact players and schedule. Shenendehowa features pitcher Ian Anderson, who has committed to Vanderbilt.
Defending Section II Class AA champ and 2015 NYSPHSAA runner-up Saratoga Springs is No. 6 on the PBR list, and Guilderland is No. 17. Queensbury and Fort Ann are among PBR’s 20 New York teams on the bubble.
Shaker’s gymnastics team placed second, Amsterdam’s wrestling team took third and Albany Academy’s boys’ swimming and diving team also finished third in the winter portion of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Scholar-Athlete Team Awards program.
Teams need to have a set number of their athletes combine for a classroom average of 90 or higher to earn scholar-athlete status.
The Shaker gymnasts had a 96.15 average, while Franklin D. Roosevelt (Section IX) secured the state championship with a 96.39. Shaker also placed eighth in girls’ track and field with a 97.99.
The Amsterdam wrestlers had a 95.38 average, and the Albany Academy swimmers had a 96.80 average.
Albany Academy (fourth, 95.38) led a strong showing by Section II boys’ skiing teams, which included Niskayuna (fifth, 95.36), Canajoharie (sixth, 94.90) and Shenendehowa (eighth, 94.19). Shenendehowa had top-10 teams in boys’ swimming and diving (sixth, 96.27) and girls’ skiing (ninth, 96.28), as well.
Other Section II top-10 teams came from Troy (boys’ bowling, seventh, 94.79), Chatham (boys’ volleyball, eighth, 90.68), Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (girls’ indoor track, ninth, 97.90), Cobleskill-Richmondville (boys’ volleyball, ninth, 90.57), Greenville (boys’ volleyball, 10th, 90.23) and Taconic Hills (girls’ swimming and diving, 10th, 93.42).
Senior outside hitter Cory Brooker and junior setter Spencer Tyrrell established individual records for kills and assists during Cobleskill-Richmondville’s championship volleyball season that ended with its first state regional appearance in 11 years.
Brooker set program marks for kills with 281 this season and with 673 for his four-year career. The Patroon Conference most valuable player had 26 kills when the Bulldogs beat Ichabod Crane (25-11, 25-27, 26-24, 17-25, 25-20) for the Section II Class B title, and collected 18 more in the regional setback against Chittenango (17-25, 25-23, 12-25, 18-25).
Tyrrell had 41 assists against Ichabod Crane and 26 against Chittenango, and finished with a single-season record 450.
Jared Almy had an outstanding serving year for C-R. The senior outside hitter was 289 for 291 with his serves (93.3 percent), and the Bulldogs generated 198 points with him initiating play.
Cobleskill-Richmondville won the Patroon Conference Mountain Division with a 17-0 record, and went 18-1 overall.
HOF CLASS ANNOUNCED
Ron Oyer of Linton, Rit DiCaprio of Mont Pleasant and Andre Davis of Niskayuna will be among 13 players inducted into the Capital Region Football Hall of Fame July 30 at the Radisson Turf Inn in Albany.
The seventh Hall of Fame class will also include Mark Galuski, who will be honored as both a player at Catholic Central and for his work as an assistant coach at Troy and Averill Park, and the Amsterdam trio of head coach Pat Liverio, assistant coach Bob Noto and player Rob Bush.
Fonda-Fultonville also has a head coach and player headed for induction with Alex Mancini and Micah Kimball, and Christian Brothers Academy will be represented in the player category by David Byrd and Joe Vellano.
To register for the hall of fame ceremony and dinner go to https://2016crfootballhalloffame.eventbrite.com. Contact Nick Fitzgerald ([email protected] or 260-1231) for more information.
2016 Capital Region Football
Hall of Fame Class
Players: Chris Breen (Troy), Rob Bush (Amsterdam), David Byrd (CBA), Chuck Catalfamo (Hudson Falls), Lennie Daniels (Coxsackie-Athens), Andre Davis (Niskayuna), Rit DiCaprio (Mont Pleasant), Mark Galuski (Catholic Central), Micah Kimball (Fonda-Fultonville), Mike O’Toole (Shenendehowa), Ron Oyer (Linton), Matt Swedick (Johnstown), Joe Vellano (CBA).
Team: Whitehall 1939 (7-0). Official: Sandy Brousseau (Capital District). Service to Youth Football: Todd McLenithan (Cambridge). Coaches: Pat Liverio (Amsterdam), Alex Mancini (Fonda-Fultonville), Art Ritchko (Bethlehem). Assistant Coaches: Robert Noto (Amsterdam), Mark Galuski (Troy, Averill Park), James Canfield (Troy). Service to Football: Michael Simpson ((UAlbany), James Allen (Times Union, TWC).