CLIFTON PARK — It was a field hockey game Shenendehowa was so determined to win, and with Jeanne Frevola calling out instructions and encouragement for the last time in Friday’s Suburban Council tournament final, that’s just what the Plainsmen did.
Kendall Eggleston scored two goals, and Rachel Sterle notched another to support a defense that limited Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake to a handful of good opportunities, and Shenendehowa presented its retiring coach with a 3-0 going-away present at Steuerwald Stadium.
“We wanted to do it so bad for her,” Eggleston, a junior, said of Shenendehowa’s varsity coach since the 1999 season. “She has dedicated her whole life to this.”
The final stop in Frevola’s field hockey coaching career was the Clifton Park school where she notched win No. 286 Friday to go with the 24 victories she picked up in a brilliant one-year stint at Hoosick Falls back in 1987. Frevola led that Hoosick Falls team to a state Class B title, and guided Shenendehowa to New York Class A championships in 2013 and 2016.
“It’s been good. It’s been a good run,” said Frevola, who plans to stay in the game as a referee. “I’m thankful to [retired Shenendehowa athletic director] Brent Steuerwald, who told me, ‘You won”t go to another school with as much talent.'”
Frevola molded that talent with willing role players to create an area powerhouse that won six Section II Class A championships and placed second seven times. Shenendehowa (No. 1 seed, 13-1) didn’t get a chance to add to that list this fall with the cancellation of Section II and state-level competitions, but won everything else available.
“We already won the league title. We told them to take the pressure off yourselves,” Frevola said of the league’s culminating tournament. “We really didn’t talk about it being a championship. We weren’t saying that in practice.”
The Plainsmen, though, played as if it was another Section II title game, which Frevola’s teams reached in each of the previous 10 years.
“We knew it wasn’t a sectional final, but we knew it was coach Frevola’s last game,” Eggleston said. “We always come out with intensity, and we wanted to double that intensity.”
“We are always motivated. We wanted to do it for our coach and for ourselves,” said the Syracuse-bound Sterle.
Sterle scored a third-quarter goal to give Shenendehowa a 2-0 lead and an additional spark that it rode to the finish line.
“I was looking forward to this moment. I was dreading this moment,” Sterle said. “It’s bittersweet. It’s a great way to end the season.”
Frevola said she couldn’t have been happier that her team was able to complete the season that was impacted in a variety of ways by COVID-19, and that her team played better and better as the season progressed. The Plainsmen were in top form Wednesday in beating Burnt Hills (No. 2, 11-3) after splitting two regular season games with the Spartans.
“People stepped up at different times in this game,” Frevola said. “That got us to where we needed to go.”
Eggleston scored her first goal with 4:25 left in the first quarter, finishing off a penalty corner from close range after accepting a quick left-to-right pass from Nicolette Morlock.
“We always have good competition with Burnt Hills, and to score early and keep scoring, it felt great,” said Eggleston, whose mom, Shenendehowa’s JV coach Shawn Eggleston, will take over for Frevola.
Sterle scored on a breakaway with 12:28 left in the third, slamming the ball into the cage with a mighty rip, and Kendall Eggleston capped another penalty corner on a drive with 11:03 to go in the third. Molly Miller started the corner with an insert pass to Lauren Shanahan up top, and Shanahan dished a left-to-right pass to Eggleston.
Shenendehowa netminder Payton Kisling made a pad save in the first quarter and a glove save in the third to thwart Burnt Hills’ best scoring chances.
“We brought the energy,” Sterle said. “We knew it was all coming to an end, and we put it all out there.”
Frevola’s field hockey coaching career included two-year stints as head coach at the University of Toledo and as an assistant at SUNY Oneonta. Though she is leaving the Shenendehowa field hockey program and retiring as a physical education teacher at the end of the school year, she will continue in her role as the school’s varsity girls’ lacrosse coach.
Burnt Hills 0 0 0 0 — 0
Shenendehowa 1 0 1 1 — 3
Burnt Hills scoring; None. Shenendehowa scoring: Eggleston 2-0, Sterle 1-0, Shanahan 0-1, Morlock 0-1. Goalkeepers: Burnt Hills, Matson, 17 saves. Shenendehowa, Kisling, 5 saves.