CLIFTON PARK — The early part of this girls’ soccer season for Shenendehowa is going to largely be about discovering what formation and personnel group works best for a relatively young team.
Two games in, there’s been plenty of tweaking — and plenty more to come — but the results are coming with them.
“We’ve been trying to figure out our formation, and who’s going to play where,” Shenendehowa coach Holli Nirsberger said Thursday after her team’s 3-0 Suburban Council win over Niskayuna. “Today was another step in the right direction.”
Lauren DeMura, Ella White and Jenna LaMar all scored for Shenendehowa (2-0 Suburban Council, 2-0 overall) as the team recorded its second shutout in as many days following Wednesday’s season-opening 5-0 win over Ballston Spa.
Thursday, the Plainsmen were locked in a tight game through the opening 30 minutes until Georgia Greene’s free kick toward the back post was nodded back across the goal and into the path of DeMura, who easily tapped it home.
“We’re trying to figure out what’s working out for us in the center of the field right now,” Greene said. “We have a young team, and I think playing more games is going to figure out what works for us, so I’m excited.”
The opening goal punctuated a period where the game began to slip away from Niskayuna. Silver Warriors coach Bryce Colby was thrilled with his team’s play for the opening 20 minutes, which included an early free kick by MacLaren Richards that Shenendehowa goalkeeper Eva Pflomm parried over the crossbar, but Niskayuna (1-1, 1-1) was unable to sustain its early pep.
“That [goal] hurt us, but honestly the game was going in that direction anyway,” Colby said. We played very well for 20 minutes, then I thought we lost our pace a little bit and we weren’t able to drag the game with us anymore, and we were chasing. From 20 minutes on, we were chasing, and that was the game.”
As the game wore on, Shenendehowa’s control of the midfield — largely thanks to Greene’s presence in the center of the field — put the game out of doubt.
“We just got a hang of the midfield,” said Shenendehowa senior forward Brooke DelSignore. “That’s what we’ve been working on in practice, just getting the hang of it in there and switching formations.”
White made it 2-0 in the 51st minute, and LaMar capped off the win 20 minutes later.
“We kept the intensity high the whole time,” Greene said.
“I think their fitness is a little bit ahead of ours,” Colby said. “They just outran us in the end. I thought, in particular, Georgia had a super game. She really ran the midfield, and we just had trouble keeping up.”
Thursday was Shenendehowa’s first time playing on its home field since the bizarre turn of events that took place last November when the Suburban Council tournament championship game against Shaker was called off just prior to its opening kickoff due to a COVID-19 case involving an individual associated with the Shaker team. The teams were eventually declared tournament co-champions.
“That game was hard for these guys,” Nirsberger said, “but I think it makes playing here again even more special.”
Both teams will be in action this weekend as part of the NYSSCOGS Hall of Fame Tournament, with Shenendehowa hosting Monroe-Woodbury on Saturday and St. Anthony’s on Sunday, while Niskayuna hosts New Hartford on Friday and Fayetteville-Manlius on Saturday.
Halftime score: Shenendehowa led 1-0. Niskayuna scoring: None. Shenendehowa scoring: DeMura 1-0, White 1-0, LaMar 1-0, Greene 0-1, McDonald 0-1. Goalies: Niskayuna, Mills, 6 saves; Joyce, 4 saves. Shenendehowa, Pflomm, 3 saves.