NISKAYUNA — The Niskayuna boys’ soccer team thought it righted the ship after suffering its first loss of the season a week ago. But on Tuesday, the Silver Warriors created their own series of ups and downs.
Junior Stephen Zarub put visiting Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake ahead, beating Niskayuna goalie Papa Ndiaye one-on-one midway through the first half.
“Today I could sense in the warmup that it just wasn’t where we needed to be,” Niskayuna coach Terrance Sloan said. “I kept explaining to them that every minute that goes by, Burnt Hills is that much more in the match.”
Niskayuna senior midfielder Jordan Angrist had seen enough.
“I wasn’t happy going down one goal, and I knew that it would take an individual effort to change the game,” he said.
Taking two free kicks in the second half, Angrist delivered on both, sending each one to the opposite post and watching Michael Puccioni and Nick Lomonoco deliver goals for the 2-1 Suburban Council win.
“When I had those chances on free kicks, I just decided to put as close to the back post as I could,” Angrist said. “I hoped for a header or a deflection, and that’s what we got.”
Puccioni leaped into the air and headed the ball inside the goal eight minutes into the second half to knot the score at one apiece.
Not what the Spartans needed on the road.
“[A] 1-0 [lead] is the worse score to have,” Burnt Hills coach Adam Cohen said. “I think 1-0 because they get one, they gain momentum [and] they get the second one.”
Twenty-five minutes later, Angrist sailed another free kick into the box, Lomonoco settled the ball near the left post and chipped it in his first goal of the year.
“The ball bounced in, I was just looking to get a touch on it and, hopefully, it would go into the goal,” Lomonoco said. “That’s what happened. It’s the thing you dream of when you’re a kid, scoring a game-winning goal.”
Cohen’s one-goal lead theory almost claimed the Silver Warriors next.
“The game had come full circle,” Sloan said. “We started slow, then we got into the game a little bit. We scored a couple [of goals], and then it was right back to the beginning of the game and they were pressing us, throwing the kitchen sink at us.
“That was relentless the last three-and a-half minutes of the match. They were all over us, and we kept giving them opportunities on the corners.”
Ndiaye is still recovering from a strained quad suffered last week versus Christian Brothers Academy, limiting his mobility in goal.
But Papa and the Silver Warriors survived the three consecutive corner kick plays with the time clock expiring, providing their biggest save of the game.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Sloan said. “It was not our finest hour of soccer and we did concede a goal. At the end of the day, we’re not going to go a clean sheet every game. That’s not the reality, but we certainly can limit how many goals we give up.”
Halftime score: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake led 1-0. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Zarub 1-0. Niskayuna scoring: Puccioni 1-0, Lomonoco 1-0, Angrist 0-2. Goalies: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Muller, 3 saves. Niskayuna, Ndiaye, 4 saves.