NISKAYUNA — Heading into halftime, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ lacrosse team held a slim one-goal lead against Niskayuna.
“And that’s not what we wanted,” Burnt Hills sophomore MK Lescault said.
After several scoreless minutes to start the second half, the Spartans did something about that. First came a goal from senior Allie Connally, then three quick scores from Lescault followed before Niskayuna could call a timeout as Burnt Hills took advantage of every opportunity presented to it early in the second half of Tuesday’s Suburban Council matchup.
“It’s the small mistakes that a team like that will capitalize on because they’re very good and they’re so talented,” Niskayuna head coach Alexis Licht said of the Spartans.
Tuesday’s 14-9 win for Burnt Hills provided head coach Katie Kerner’s team the second-to-last victory it needs in order to produce an undefeated Suburban Council season. The Spartans will seek that final win Friday against Shenendehowa, where Kerner starred before playing at Le Moyne College.
In all, Burnt Hills (11-0 Suburban Council, 11-1 overall) scored the first five goals of the second half, and Niskayuna (5-6, 5-6) never was closer than four goals after the Spartans’ surge. Lescault led Burnt Hills with seven goals and an assist in the victory, while Connally had four goals, and senior Sydney Fitzgerald added a goal and three assists. Ella Blesi, a sophomore, also had three assists.
“At halftime, we came together and figured out what we needed to do to come out stronger in the second half,” Connally said.
“We started to hustle more and we definitely started to communicate better,” Lescault said. “Our defense got so much better; we were pressuring the ball so well.”
Kerner, whose first season as head coach was prematurely ended last season when restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic canceled the spring season after several days of preseason practices, credited Niskayuna for making her club pay for some “casual” play in the first half.
“Especially going into sectionals [next week], if we get casual at any point, teams will pick up on that,” Kerner said. “Props to Niskayuna. They picked up on that and did really well. We’ve got to be confident, but we can’t be too casual.”
Niskayuna played with confidence in that opening half. Licht — another head coach whose first season was canceled in 2020 — said her team has needed to develop that trait this spring, as the team’s roster only includes three players with previous varsity experience.
“That first half, we were super proud of our team play,” said Licht, whose team received four goals from junior Ashlyn McPartlon and 15 saves from senior Izzie Petracci.
In the second half, Burnt Hills took control.
“When we come out with a lot of energy, that’s when we do a lot better,” Lescault said.
Burnt Hills’ lone loss this season came against Queensbury, a potential foe in the Section II Class B playoffs. Friday’s matchup with the Plainsmen, a Class A competitor, will provide the Spartans with a great test ahead of the postseason.
“Shen’s a really good team, so they’re going to help prepare us for sectionals and we’re excited for that,” Kerner said.
Halftime score: Burnt Hills led 7-6. Burnt Hills scoring: Tullock 1-1, Fitzgerald 1-3, Adams 1-2, Lescault 7-1, Blesi 0-3, Connally 4-0. Niskayuna scoring: McPartlon 4-0, Foley 1-0, Reffelt 1-1, Boler 1-0, Collins 2-0, Zhu 0-1, Tsakalakos 0-1. Goalies: Burnt Hills, Morrison, 7 saves. Niskayuna, Petracci, 15 saves.