LATHAM — In a way, a tie game with one of last season’s Section II Class AA final four teams helped the Shaker girls’ soccer team get past another one Saturday afternoon.
Shaker picked up goals early in each half, and thwarted everything Niskayuna had to offer in a 2-0 Suburban Council win.
The shutout left the Blue Bison 3-0-1, with that draw coming in their second game against perennial area power Shenendehowa on Oct.6.
“The first game we won 9-0 [against Albany], and the second game was a 0-0 tie with Shenendehowa,” Shaker senior Bella Tronco said. “In that second game, we really clicked together. It made us understand that we’ve got to play quick if we’re going to be one of the top teams.”
“The Shenendehowa game was good for us,” Shaker coach Mike Brehm said.
Shaker showed its quicks on its home field Saturday, and displayed speed and an aggressive edge, too, against a quality Niskayuna (2-2-0) cast.
“We want to treat every game like it’s a playoff game,” Brehm said.
Shaker lost to Bethlehem in the 2019 Section II semifinals, and Bethlehem went on to beat Niskayuna in the Class AA title game. Niskayuna got there by beating Shenendehowa.
“We lost to Niskayuna 2-1 last year [in the regular season] and that messed up our sectional seeding,” Tronco said. “That gave us extra motivation to win today.”
“They certainly played well today,” Niskayuna coach Bryce Colby said. “They were really sharp. Even the players I don’t know a lot about were very strong.”
Shaker had the upper hand for long segments Saturday, including the opening minutes, when Tronco struck for a goal 4:45 in after she handled a through pass from Jewel Tanksley and broke in alone on Niskayuna netminder Emma Anderson.
“It was a beautiful pass,” said Tronco, a six-year varsity player who competed for Holy Names from the seventh through 10th grade. “I focused, picked a spot on goal, aimed for it, and shot it.”
“No one looks to be the star on this team,” Brehm said. “The girls are willing to share the ball. When someone is in the proper area, they get to shoot. Our motto is, ‘We not me.'”
Shaker had a drive go just wide before Tronco’s goal, and another scoring bid sailed over the crossbar soon after.
“The first half they were all over us,” Colby said.
“We want to win every 50-50 ball and pressure,” Tronco said. “We try to use our quickness, speed and agility.”
Junior Vivian Nartey scored Shaker’s second goal 1:18 into the second half when she flipped the ball over a diving Anderson, who had come out to defend, and drove the ball into the net.
“She [Anderson] won four of those and lost one,” Colby noted.
Anderson made nine saves, two on breakaways, and Niskayuna defender Lexi Thompson broke up several plays. Shaker’s Bria LaBella made five saves for the shutout.
Niskayuna 0 0 – 0
Shaker 1 1 – 2
Niskayuna scoring: None. Shaker scoring: Tronco 1-0, Nartey 1-0, Tanksley 0-1. Goalkeepers: Niskayuna, Anderson, 9 saves. Shaker, LaBella, 5 saves.