Niskayuna lacrosse gets a test

Ballston Spa applies pressure
Niskayuna junior Griffin King scored five goals in Tuesday's 13-9 win at Ballston Spa.
Niskayuna junior Griffin King scored five goals in Tuesday's 13-9 win at Ballston Spa.

BALLSTON SPA — Niskayuna lacrosse coach Mike Vorgang gave Ballston Spa credit for its timely defensive switch and the aggressive way it went about its rides, but even more so for its refusal to go away in today’s Suburban Council game that matched state-ranked teams.

“A lacrosse game broke out,” Vorgang said after his Silver Warriors stayed unbeaten with a 13-9 win on the Scotties’ field. “We had our run, and they had their run. That third quarter was us not executing and them making plays.”

Ballston Spa cut into a 9-2 halftime deficit with a spirited 5-2 spurt in that third frame, and Niskayuna held on to prevail in its first serious challenge this spring. Niskayuna (7-0) had won five previous games by double digits, and another by nine goals.

“Finally having a really physical game, it was a good experience,” Niskayuna junior midfielder Griffin King said after scoring five goals and assisting on two. “It was a good test. It was good for us. We haven’t been in anything like that since we scrimmaged [multi-time Connecticut state champ] New Canaan.”

Ballston Spa (5-2) got a lot stingier when it switched its defense from man-to-man to zone in the second half, while its rides throughout the contest gave Niskayuna more trouble than any had before when the Silver Warriors were attempting to clear the ball and move up the field.

“Athletically, they  [the Scotties] put pressure on you,” Vorgang said. “Their ride in the middle of the field, we’re not accustomed to seeing it. They have athletes. Their pressure helped them, but it also hurt them in the first half.”

Vorgang was referring to Niskayuna’s offensive success in the first half when Ballston Spa overplayed in its man-to-man look. Niskayuna scored eight of the game’s first nine goals; three came in a span of 63 seconds.

“They had more difficulty against our defense in the second half,” Ballston Spa assistant coach Jason Ohnsman said. “It was a good call [by head coach Luke Snow] to change it up.”

Zac Schuette said the Scotties’ offensive cast fed off the improved play by their defensive teammates in the third quarter.

“We switched up our defensive formations and we got some possessions back-to-back,” said Schuette, a senior attackman. “We were anxious to get the ball, and after we saw a couple put away, we had some momentum.”

Schuette capped Ballston Spa’s productive third with three unanswered goals to close it out, one of them coming on a behind-the-head shot.

“We got off to a hot start,” King said. “They roared back.”

Gabe Nish sandwiched goals around one by Schuette in the fourth quarter to give Niskayuna, the state’s No. 7 Class A team, a 13-8 lead with 5:34 left.

“In this game, you’ve got to respond,” Vorgang said after picking up his 401st win with the Niskayuna varsity.

Niskayuna goalkeeper Max Ronesi came up with a tough save on a breakaway just before Nish made it 13-8. Ronesi’s 21 saves also included three from close range in the final minutes of the third after Schuette made 11-7 with his three in a row.

“Playing lacrosse goalie is the hardest thing to do in sports,” Vorgang said. “Making a save is another possession for us, and it takes a goal away from them.”

Nish had three goals and an assist, and Finn McCullough had two goals and two assists for Niskayuna, the 15-time Section II champion. Schuette finished with four goals, Joe McDonald had two goals and an assist for the state’s No. 13 Class B team, and Sam Swingruber had a goal and three assists.

“This was obviously a big game,” Schuette, a Springfield College commit, said. “This loss is going to hurt us for a bit. We want to come out the next game firing.”

Niskayuna 7 2 2 2 – 13

Ballston Spa 1 1 5 2 – 9

Niskayuna scoring: Griffin King 5-2, Finn McCullough 2-2, Drew Collins 1-1, Eoghan Sweeney 1-0, Gabe Nish 3-1, Dan Brownell 1-0, Tyler Gregory 0-3, Julian Pigliavento 0-1. Ballston Spa scoring: Joe McDonald 2-1, Alex Yerou 1-0, Sam Swingruber 1-3, Ethan Thomas 0-1, Zac Schuette 4-0, Lucas Bennice 1-0.

Goalies: Niskayuna, Max Ronesi, 21 saves. Ballston Spa, James Nash, 6 saves; Gregg Dort, 1 save.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz t 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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