NISKAYUNA — It was just one pass in a soccer game that was full of them, but it was a special one for Emma Anderson, who for the first time put her name in the scoring section of the Niskayuna stat book.
Her three saves were marked off in another section of that book.
“I didn’t know you got a point for that,” the Silver Warriors senior goalkeeper said after a successful senior game performance. “In the moment I was thinking about them not scoring.”
Saratoga Springs never did that, and Niskayuna got two goals and two assists from Maria Tsakalakos in a 6-0 Suburban Council win Thursday.
Anderson set up the first of Tsakalakos’ goals with a long drive from the top of the box down the right side of the field, and the team co-captain notched the first point of her three-year varsity career.
“I knew their back line was pushed up,” Anderson said. “I saw a space behind, and I hit it as hard as I could.”
“Beautiful long ball,” said Tsakalakos, a senior forward. “It went right where I wanted it, and it worked out perfectly.”
The play led to the third goal in a four-goal first half, and Niskayuna (5-2-1) went on to secure its third straight victory.
“The last couple of games have been really good team efforts,” Niskayuna coach Bryce Colby said. “We’re figuring out how to space ourselves and we’re moving the ball, and the pace has been better.”
“We tied last year on senior night,” Tsakalakos said. “I’m so excited that we won this time.”
Tsakalakos played a big role, with Anderson’s pass setting the stage for her teammate’s first big play.
“There was a 50-50 ball at the top of the box,” said Anderson, who has committed to the University at Buffalo. “I like to come out and clear the ball. I usually don’t clear the ball that far.”
“We kind of made eye contact from far away,” Tsakalakos said. “I saw it coming and started to make my run. I got the ball about 20 yards from the box and cut in front of a defender.”
Tsakalakos broke free into the box and drove the ball into the cage.
“Maria is very intuitive. She sees spaces and was already moving to that space when Emma made that great pass,” Colby said. “About everyone on the field was flat-footed, and that created that goal.”
Anderson’s goalkeeper assist had Colby reminiscing.
“I don’t know if it was the last one we had, but the one I remember was in 1995 in a non-league game against Vestal, when Kristin Scharphorn punted the ball to Meghan Pastiglione,” Colby said. “It was one All-American to another All-American.”
Grace Mackey gave Niskayuna a 4-0 lead when she knocked in a rebound after Saratoga goalie Gwyn Long stopped an initial blast from Tsakalakos.
Tsakalakos scored an unassisted goal in the second half, and later assisted on a tally by Mia Achcet.
“We’re very young and we have three injured starters,” Saratoga coach Adrienne Dannehy said. “We’re not at full strength, but we’ve got a great group and I am proud of how they played hard and played with sportsmanship.”
Niskayuna went up 1-0 on an own-goal, and Erin Hensel scored the hosts’ second goal.
Long made 14 saves for the 3-5-0 Blue Streaks, while Niskayuna backup netminder Jamila Mesbahi matched Anderson’s three saves when she came on for the last 20 minutes.
“I didn’t have to do too much today,” Anderson said. “Our defense played well.”
Halftime: Niskayuna led 4-0. Saratoga Springs scoring: None. Niskayuna scoring: Anderson 0-1, Mackey 1-0, Achcet 1-0, Hensel 1-0, Tsakalakos 2-2. Goalkeepers: Saratoga Springs, Long, 14 saves. Niskayuna, Anderson, 3 saves; Mesbahi, 3 saves.