CLIFTON PARK — There’s a tie atop the Suburban Council field hockey standings after Shenendehowa pulled out a tight win Wednesday night for its longtime coach.
Meara Bury scored early in the fourth quarter to break a 1-1 deadlock, and the Plainsmen held off rival Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake for a 2-1 victory for yet another triumph under the direction of Jeanne Frevola.
“It’s a great feeling to get the win, especially on the night we celebrated her,” Bury said of Frevola, who is stepping away from the field hockey coaching job she has held at the Clifton Park school since 1999. “We were super motivated. We wanted to do this for her.”
Hannah Merritt scored Shenendehowa’s first goal on a first-quarter penalty stroke, Grace Todd got the Spartans even in the third and Bury won it with a deflected shot during a penalty corner play.
The evening began with a ceremony honoring Frevola, who is also retiring from her physical education position at the end of the school year, but will continue to coach lacrosse at Shenendehowa.
“It was nice to see her kids step up and play well for her,” Burnt Hills coach Kelly Vrooman said of Frevola, the seven-time Section II Coach of the Year and three-time state champion. “They were the better team tonight.”
Shenendehowa turned the tables on Burnt Hills after last week’s 1-0 shootout loss, and pulled even with the Spartans at 6-1 as the teams continued to vie for the top seed in the league tournament that will follow the 12-game regular season.
“They were pumped and excited,” Frevola said after the game, as a thick fog engulfed Steuerwald Stadium. “They did a lot of good things out there. Proud of them.”
Bury scored the game-winning goal from about 10 yards away after Nicolette Morlock began a penalty corner with an insert pass. The ball found its way to Merritt, and she followed with a left-to-right pass.
“It was supposed to go to someone else, but the ball bounced over her stick,” Bury said. “I saw the ball, and knew I had to get a hit on it.”
Bury scored her second goal of the season with 13:20 left in the game. Her drive deflected off the leg of a Burnt Hills defender before going in.
“She is the backup for the center striker,” Frevola said of Bury, who plans to play field hockey next season at Ithaca College. “She kept her stick down and shot it at the cage.
“They didn’t give up and finished,” the veteran coach added after her 303rd high school win and 279th with the Plainsmen. “They finished the play. They finished the corner.”
After posting an impressive 3-0 win over 2019 Section II Class A champion Guilderland on Monday, Burnt Hills was able to finish only once against Shenendehowa when Todd’s diagonal drive from about eight yards away tucked inside the left post. Izzy Adams set up the goal with 12:52 left in the third.
“I think we needed this to move forward,” Vrooman said. “Sometimes you need to lose to see what’s on the other side. I hope what they’re feeling now, they don’t want to feel again.”
Vrooman said her goalie, Senja Matson, was one of her few standouts after the senior made five saves.
“She [Matson] made some great saves, and Izzy played very well, but overall, we didn’t play our best,” Vrooman said. “We’ve got to play up against Shenendehowa.”
Merritt scored on her penalty shot from seven yards away with 3:10 remaining in the first, after Matson was whistled for covering the ball amid a mass of players. Merritt scored on a low drive just inside the left post.
Before Wednesday, Burnt Hills had not allowed a goal other than one that Shenendehowa mustered in the shootout round in its loss to the Spartans last week.
“Let’s learn from this,” Vrooman said.
Burnt Hills 0 0 1 0 — 1
Shenendehowa 1 0 0 1 — 2
Burnt Hills scoring: Todd 1-0, Adams 0-1. Shenendehowa scoring: Merritt 1-1, Bury 1-0. Goalkeepers: Burnt Hills, Matson, 5 saves. Shenendehowa, Kisling, 2 saves.