King leads Niskayuna to a sweet 16th sectional title

Junior scored nine goals in title game
Niskayuna's Griffin King winds up for a shot Friday while being stick-checked by Shenendehowa's Tyler Coleman.
Niskayuna's Griffin King winds up for a shot Friday while being stick-checked by Shenendehowa's Tyler Coleman.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

EAST GREENBUSH — Behind its King, Niskayuna won another lacrosse crown Friday night.

Griffin King turned in one of the top individual efforts ever in a Section II Class A championship game with nine goals, and the Silver Warriors secured their 16th title with a 20-9 win over rival Shenendehowa at Columbia High School.

King’s monster game included six goals in the second quarter, when Niskayuna (No. 1 seed, 17-1) turned a relatively close game into a romp.

“Coach said keep plugging away and do our thing,” King, a junior midfielder, said of the break between the first and second quarters. “He said good things will happen.”

Niskayuna led 5-2 after one, and outscored Shenendehowa (No. 2, 13-6) over the next 12 minutes 9-4, with King acting as the primary triggerman.

“When your best players play great, you win games,” Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang said.

Eoghan Sweeney was among the standouts with 22 faceoff wins on 27 tries over the first three quarters. King, of course, was the other with his nine goals. King, who has committed to Brown, also picked up an assist.

“Griffin does a lot well,” Shenendehowa coach Jason Gifford said after Shenendehowa lost its second final in as many years. “He uses both hands well. He’s patient. He’s smart. Take away one side and he’ll attack the other.”

King scored a single goal in each quarter but the second, when his six-goal outburst featured three of them in a span of 43 seconds.

“We had a rhythm,” King said of the second quarter, which also included a goal by Drew Collins and two by Gabe Nish. “We were really clicking. We couldn’t stop scoring.”

Nish and Finn McCullough both finished with three goals and an assist, Dan Brownell had two goals and two assists, and Collins had a pair of goals.

McCullough notched two quick goals in the third quarter as Niskayuna’s advantage grew to 15-6.

“This feels great,” King said. “But we’ve still got work to do. We’ve got a regional championship to go after, and hopefully states.”

Niskayuna, ranked No. 9 in the state, had beaten Shenendehowa in mid-May 15-10, when Collins was the top goal producer with five goals.

“The last time we got out to a big lead and let them have some sustained runs,” Vorgang said. “We didn’t allow that tonight.”

Sweeney had a lot to do with that with his excellent faceoff work, which gave Niskayuna possession after possession. In the key second quarter, the senior won 10 of 14 draws, and in the next period he was 5-0 in the circle.

“He’s unbelievable,” King said of Sweeney, a lacrosse and wrestling star. “Every time we score, or they score, 90 percent of the time we’re going to get the ball.”

Pierce Holonah paced Shenendehowa with three goals, and Pat Nagy had two goals and two assists.

“We ran into a team that executed very well tonight,” said Gifford, whose Plainsmen came in ranked No. 23 in the state. “They forced us to play catch-up.”

Niskayuna claimed the Section II Class B title a year ago with an 18-6 win over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, while Shenendehowa lost the 2017 Class A final to Shaker 9-5. Shenendehowa beat Niskayuna for the 2016 Class A title 15-14.

Niskayuna will meet Kingston of Section IX Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in a state regional semifinal game at Columbia High School. Kingston advanced with a 10-7 wn over Monroe-Woodbury.

Shenendehowa 2 4 2 1 – 9

Niskayuna 5 9 4 2 – 20

Shenendehowa scoring: Liguori 1-0, Beach 1-1, Nagy 2-2, Holohan 3-0, Cannon 1-2, Makhatadze 1-0. Niskayuna scoring: Nish 4-1, Brownell 2-2, King 9-1, Collins 2-0, Sweeney 0-1, Gregory 0-3, McCullough 3-1.

Goalies: Shenendehowa, Olsen, 10 saves; Niskayuna, Ronesi, 6 saves; D’Allard, 6 saves.

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

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