COLONIE – Passing the ball back to its own defenders and then patiently setting up its offensive sets allowed Shenendehowa to remain undefeated with a 2-0 road victory Tuesday afternoon at Christian Brothers Academy.
Shenendehowa senior forward Sahil Arora drilled a deflected save by Brothers goalie John Putnam with 16:24 left in the first half for the early lead. Conor Brown set up the score with his own shot from the left side of the box that Putnam kept out of the goal, but the rebound to the right ended up on the right foot of Arora.
“I got a great pass from my teammate and CBA is a great team,” Arora said. “That one gave us the confidence to go out and get another.”
It was the fourth goal of the year for Aurora and his third consecutive game-winning goal in a row for the Plainsmen.
“Sahil [Arora] has been putting in almost a goal a game and Conor Brown has put some in and along with some assists,’ Shenendehowa coach Jon Bain said. “Owen [Brignati] has put some assists in and Darien [Espinal] has been getting on the end of balls. It’s coming from a variety of places, so that’s generally a good sign.”
As CBA increased the pressure on the offensive end throughout the second half, a penalty with 35 seconds left to play against the Brothers dashed any hopes of a tie in regulation. Plainsmen senior captain Brandon Barrett sent the ensuing penalty kick on the ground near the left post, past a diving Putnam.
The offensive success is often created by the Plainsmen’s ability to play the ball back to themselves. That happens when the squad stays within its game plan.
“Today, we had a really good first 20 minutes and then the game kind of went back and forth,” Bain said. “I think CBA kind of had more of the momentum the second half, especially with their counterattacks.”
CBA (3-1) put seven shots on the Shenendehowa goal, utilizing quick strikes through the midfield, forcing the Plainsmen defense to drop back and assist goalkeeper Noah Flint.
The Plainsmen (4-0-1) have made the most of an extra-condensed fall season. The fall season’s start was delayed because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, and Shenendehowa’s first couple games were postponed due to a COVID-19 exposure at a club practice that forced a majority of the Plainsmen to need to quarantine during the preseason.
In making up those postponed games, Shenendehowa’s stamina has been tested.
“It’s very tiring; game after game after game. But when we’re out there, we have one goal in mind, which is to be the best,” Aurora said.
The overall depth of a 28-player roster and 14 returning seniors has been a key to managing the condensed schedule.
“The returning seniors helped us get right back into it and we’ve got a bunch of other kids, too who are doing things for us,” Brignati said. “I think the future is also looking good.”
Shenendehowa will host Guilderland Thursday, its second rescheduled contest before traveling Saturday to Averill Park. After that, Shenendehowa returns to playing two games per week.
“The next couple weeks, it’s going to start slowing down, so it will get easier,” Brignati, a senior captain, said. “This week we’ve got a pretty packed week, but we’re hoping to still be able to get the wins.”
Halftime score: Shenendehowa led 1-0. Shenendehowa scoring: Arora 1-0, Barrett 1-0, Brown 0-1. CBA scoring: None. Goalies: Shenendehowa, Flint, 7 saves. CBA, Putnam, 4 saves.