LATHAM — For the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake boys’ lacrosse team, Saturday’s Class C regional championship game took a quick turn for the better late in the third quarter and early in the fourth.
That’s when the Spartans strung six unanswered goals to pull away from pesky Pelham Memorial on the way to a history-making 12-5 victory on the turf at Shaker High School.
Kevin Carney scored all four of his goals in that timely spurt that was just one part of a tremendous team effort by the Spartans. That effort included 14 saves from Tyler Manning, and Rocco Mareno winning all but one faceoff.
“I have played with these guys all of my life,” said Carney, a Canisius commit and one of 12 seniors on the Burnt Hills roster. “To get this far, we’re really excited.”
Before Saturday, Niskayuna and Shenendehowa were the only Section II boys’ lacrosse teams to win regional championship games since the section began sending representatives to the state tournament in 1982.
“The air is different,” said Burnt Hills coach Tom Schwan, who’s 13th and final year with the Spartans will end with a state final four appearance. “Only two programs in Section II in 40 years won this game. There’s a new kid on the block, and it’s really feeling awesome.”
Burnt Hills’ two previous state tournament appearances in 2011 and 2016 ended with lopsided regional losses to Yorktown, but in the third, the Spartans (17-2) never trailed. They weren’t able to pull away until the second half, though, against a Pelham (Section I, 14-8) squad that roughed up Rondout Valley 19-5 in a sub-regional game earlier in the week.
“When we won against Ballston Spa last year [in the Section II Class B final], there was no state tournament. The year before was COVID,” Schwan said. “These guys have never been here before, and to maintain their composure, that was really something.”
Shane McClernan gave Burnt Hills a 6-4 advantage with 1:28 left in the third, Carney connected 20 seconds after that, and he delivered again with 55.8 seconds remaining in a burst that gave the state’s No. 3-ranked team all the momentum it needed.
From there, Burnt Hills extended its lead with three more goals to begin the fourth quarter, the first two by Carney and another by McClernan. Both of McClernan’s goals during the run were assisted by Carney.
“The coaches did a great job at halftime giving us a game plan,” Carney said.
Mareno played a significant role in the 6-0 run with his work in the circle and his feeds afterward.
“I know our offense is special,” said Mareno, a senior who’ll play at Towson next season. “My job is to get it to our offense.”
Besides Carney’s six-point outing, Colden Swisher had two goals and two assists, McClernan finished with two goals and one assist, Nick Bailey had two goals, and Jack Scalise and Anthony Andolina both notched one goal.
Bailey’s goal came as time expired in the first half to make it 4-2 after Eric Elbery scored for Pelham with 6.7 seconds left. Swisher opened the third quarter scoring, and Elbery and Matteo Johnson tallied for Pelham to get the Pelicans within 5-4.
“Carney assisted on the first, then scored [and] scored,” Schwan said of the run that followed Johnson’s goal. “Carney gave us some very important goals.”
Manning made several big stops in the first half to keep Pelham, the state’s No. 6-ranked team, at bay.
“I felt comfortable in there. Everything was smooth,” said Manning, who, along with Carney, Mareno and Scalise, serve as team captains. “I felt locked in the whole game.”
“Ty has been unbelievable the last couple of games,” Carney said. “He has been a brick wall in the net.”
Burnt Hills will play Manhasset (Section VIII, 13-5) in a state semifinal game Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the UAlbany. Manhasset dealt Mount Sinai (Section XI, 18-1) its first loss in the Long Island regional 12-7.
“To do this is a big deal,” Schwan said.
It was a game of catchup that Niskayuna couldn’t win.
Rye played with a smart and patient ball-control style, and every time Niskayuna did something positive the Garnets had an answer in a 18-8 Class B regional championship-game win at Shaker.
“Before the game it was, ‘Are we going to get the ball enough times and do something with it?’” Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang said after his team’s 10-game win streak was snapped.
Rye (Section I, 18-3) had the faceoff advantage, which led to longer stretches of ball possession, more shots and ultimately more goals.
Kian McCarthy was a key offensive figure for the Garnets with five goals and two assists, while Caden Whaling and Brendan O’Byrne both had three goals and two assists.
“We didn’t have the ball enough,” Niskayuna junior Greyson Vorgang said.
McCarthy scored for Rye 22 seconds into the contest, and Tanner Howson made it 2-0 10 seconds after that. Saif Chowdhrey got Niskayuna on the board 15 seconds later to cap a flurry of action, and Rye came back with goals by Whaling and O’Byrne later in the opening quarter to go up 4-1.
Niskayuna (14-5) cut its deficit to two goals four times afterward.
“If you roll through our first-half opportunities, at the half it could have been a one- or two-goal game,” Mike Vorgang said. “We had doorstep opportunities. We put the ball on a stick and couldn’t finish. We had opportunities we didn’t have in the second half.”
Consecutive tallies by Davey Carroll early in the third frame got Niskayuna within 8-6. The Garnets in turn went on a 4-1 run to close out the frame in boosting their advantage to 12-7, before putting the game out of reach with a 6-0 fourth-quarter surge.
Those goals by Davey, both assisted by Chowdhrey, marked the only time the state’s No. 8-ranked squad was able to string two together
“That definitely gave us hope,” Carroll, a junior who has committed to Rutgers, said of his back-to-back goals. “We couldn’t get the ball enough after that. The biggest difference was the faceoffs.”
John Hartzell was in the faceoff circle for most of Rye’s 17 wins, while Howson had two goals and an assist, and Owen Kovacs had a goal and three assists for the state’s No. 2-ranked team.
Niskayuna earned its 18th state tournament ticket when it forged a 14-13 comeback win against Ballston Spa in the Section II Class B title tilt. Greyson Vorgang scored seven goals in that game including Niskayuna’s last two, but the Denver commit managed two goals to go with an assist Saturday against Rye’s quick-to-the-ball defense. Carroll had a hat trick to pace the Silver Warriors.
“This definitely gives us a chip on our shoulder,” Carroll said. “It gives us a reason to work even harder.”
“I hope the underclassmen take notice we’re not skilled enough,” Mike Vorgang said. “They have to work a little harder if we’re going to get to where we want.”
RYE 18, NISKAYUNA 8
Rye 5 3 4 6 — 18
Niskayuna 3 1 3 1 — 8
Rye scoring: Greenhaw 1-0, McCarthy 5-2, Kovacs 1-3, Whaling 3-2, Howson 2-1, O’Byrne 3-2, Keller 1-0, McDermott 1-1, Cunningham 1-0. Niskayuna scoring: Vorgang 2-1, Klokiw 1-0, D. Carroll 3-0, Licht 1-1, Chowdhrey 1-2. Goalkeepers: Rye, Garnett, unavailable. Niskayuna, T. Carroll, 8 saves.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE 12, PELHAM 5
Pelham 0 2 21 — 5
Burnt Hills 1 3 4 4 — 12
Pelham scoring: Reen 1-0, Johnston 1-0, Elbery 2-0, Johnson 1-0. Burnt Hills scoring: Andolina 1-0, Carney 4-2, R. Mareno 0-2, McClernan 2-1, Scalise 1-0, Swisher 2-2, Bailey 2-0. Goalkeepers: Pelham, unavailable. Burnt Hills, Manning, 14 saves.
IN OTHER ACTION
In the Class A regional final at Shaker, Shenendehowa was beaten 14-6 by Section I champion Scarsdale.
Scarsdale did the bulk of its damage in the second quarter, outscoring the Plainsmen 6-1 in the frame to open up an 8-2 halftime lead. Ryan Ornstein had a five-goal performance and Jacob Goldstein added three goals and two assists for Scarsdale.
Shenendehowa was led by a hat trick from Drew Canterbury. Also for the Plainsmen, Mason Carroll had a goal and an assist and Nate Wolfe provided a pair of assists.
In Class D, Schuylerville’s season came to an end with a 14-2 loss to Section I champion Briarcliff, which scored the game’s first 14 goals.
Jackson Ricciardi had four goals and four assists, and Elliott Jones added three goals and four assists for Briarcliff. Scoring for Schuylerville were Nate King and Hansen Peck.