CLIFTON PARK — The Shenendehowa field hockey team hasn’t reached the place it wants to be, but appears to be on its way there.
Lauren Shanahan and Kendall Eggleston scored second-quarter goals, and Shenendehowa knocked off Suburban Council-rival Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Friday 2-0 for its fourth consecutive victory.
The Plainsmen topped teams from Pennsylvania and Kentucky at the MAX Field Hockey National High School Invitational last weekend to begin their win streak, and topped Bethlehem afterward before avenging a 1-0 loss to Burnt Hills with Friday’s strong end-to-end effort at Brent Steuerwald Stadium.
“We’re coming along,” first-year Shenendehowa head coach Shawn Eggleston said after her team’s homecoming triumph. “It is a matter of them believing in themselves and believing in the team.”
The team in green and white cashed in on a pair of penalty corners to build its lead, and kept Burnt Hills from formulating a consistent attack of its own while suffering its first league setback.
“They were better than they were the first time around,” Burnt Hills coach Kelly Vrooman said in reference to the Spartans’ 1-0 win over Shenendehowa back on Sept. 8, a game called at the half due to inclement weather. “They were more organized. They had better passing, and we couldn’t get it together.”
Shanahan said Shenendehowa gained plenty from its wins at the MAX Field Hockey tournament when it beat Perkiomen Valley of Pennsylvania 2-0 and duPont Manual of Kentucky 3-2.
“We were just in Pennsylvania and won both of our games. I think the tournament helped us come together as a team,” Shanahan said. “We saw the connections and brought them to this game.”
Shanahan scored with 11:01 left in the second quarter from about 10 yards away after completing a give-and-go with Kendall Eggleston.
“Me and Kendall have played so long together,” Shanahan said. “That set the tone for the game.”
Kendall Eggleston gave Shenendehowa a 2-0 lead from close range with 13.5 seconds left in the second quarter after taking a short left-to-right cross from Kelly Westervelt.
That play, like the initial scoring play, began with an insert pass from Molly Miller. Nicolette Molock’s shot was saved by Burnt Hills goalie Katherine Jensen, and Westervelt passed quickly after collecting the rebound.
“We have a lot of juniors on the team and we’re coming together,” said Shanahan, a senior captain along with Eggleston, Hannah Merritt and Brianna Anslow. “We’re starting to click. In the beginning of the season we didn’t know each other so well. We had some ups and downs.”
Shawn Eggleston noted the solid defense Shenendehowa played Friday against a Burnt Hills (6-1 SC, 6-3 overall) team that beat Saratoga Springs Wednesday 6-3. The Plainsmen (6-2, 8-2) beat Bethlehem that day 4-0.
“That’s an area we have struggles with a lot,” the coach said of her team’s defense. “We have been very inconsistent. We have been working on being composed in the circle. Not bending under pressure.”
Shanahan and fellow 12th-graders Kiera O’Neill and Maddie Meyer anchored the Shenendehowa defense, and Anslow stopped the only Burnt Hills shot that got through.
“I thought we did an amazing job,” Shanahan said.
“When it was in our defensive end we made smart decisions,” Shawn Eggleston said.
Burnt Hills managed one penalty corner while Shenendehowa was awarded seven of them.
“When you don’t come out to play against Shenendehowa . . . They were the better team today,” Vrooman said. “Every player has to be on top of their game in order for us to win.”
Burnt Hills lost for the third time in four games which included a pair of setbacks at the MAX Field Hockey event. Vrooman believes her team will respond in a positive manner as it continues its bid for the league title before going after its ninth straight Section II Class B flag.
“Sometimes you’ve got to lose in order to take the next step forward,” Vrooman said.
Burnt Hills 0 0 0 0 — 0
Shenendehowa 0 2 0 0 — 2
Burnt Hills scoring: None. Shenendehowa scoring: Shanahan 1-0, Eggleston 1-1, Westervelt 0-1. Goalies: Burnt Hills, Jensen, 3 saves. Shenendehowa, Anslow, 1 save.