Clarke’s goal helps Shenendehowa boys’ soccer edge Niskayuna

Shenendehowa Tanner Rock against Niskayuna’s Patrick Terry at Shenendehowa Tuesday.

Shenendehowa Tanner Rock against Niskayuna’s Patrick Terry at Shenendehowa Tuesday.

CLIFTON PARK Shenendehowa wants to complete its regular season boys’ soccer schedule that same way it started out, and that would be with a bunch of wins as a springboard into the Section II Class AA tournament where it is the defending champion.

“We’re a good team with a lot of potential,” Shenendehowa senior forward Lochlain Clarke said after scoring an early first-half goal in Tuesday’s 1-0 Suburban Council victory over Niskayuna. “We’ve just got to push each other in practice. Get on each other. Do our best.”

The Plainsmen were a much better team Tuesday than they were Monday in a 3-0 loss to Columbia which left them 1-3 in a four-game stretch. The Plainsmen (7-2 league, 8-3 overall) had prevailed in six straight games before that skid with multiple goals in each outing.

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“The energy we had was much better than yesterday,” said Shenendehowa coach Jon Bain, whose squad is in a five-team scramble for the SC Blue Division top spot with Saratoga Springs, Shaker, Guilderland and Bethlehem. “I was happy with our chances, but I wish we finished more of them.”

While one goal proved to be enough in the bounce-back win, Bain figures it’ll take more firepower to have a successful closing league run that starts Saturday against CBA and continues with contests against Saratoga, Bethlehem and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.

The Shenendehowa-CBA game will be a rematch of the 2021 Section II Class AA title game won by the Plainsmen 2-0 on goals by Carke and Mark Makhatadze, two of the teams’ key returning players.

Images: Shenendehowa boys’ soccer takes on Niskayuna Tuesday (15 photos)

“We’ve been working on different things but we haven’t practiced finishing too much,” Bain said. “Thursday and Friday we’ll have finishing sessions.”

Clarke finished in close after Niskayuna goalie Eric Thurn made an initial stop on a shot by Ben Tymeson.
“Their keeper made a great save, and I put it in. That’s what I do,” Clarke said. “I also scored last year in the sectional semifinals against Niskayuna [in a 3-1 win] on a rebound.”

Thurn was Niskayuna’s standout with nine saves, including a leaping punch stop later in the first half.

“He [Thurn] played well throughout the game,” said Niskayuna assistant coach Eli Bardhollari, who filled in for head coach Terrance Sloan while he was away tending to a family matter. “He controlled the box.”

“Their keeper did a great job,” Clarke said of the sophomore. “He saved them, I would say.”

Sam Tymeson made one save for Shenendehowa in the first half and Colin Stump didn’t make any stops when he came on in the second period in a combined shutout that also saw defenders Matt Gleason, Dom Holmes and Andrew Winkler stand out.

Niskayuna (1-6-1, 1-7-1) had picked up its first win Saturday against Colonie, with Jackson Beckmann accounting for all of the Silver Warriors goals in a 3-1 triumph.

“Something we’ve been working on is trying to get the back line connecting with the front line,” Bardhollari said. “It’s difficult against a team like Shenendehowa because they have guys who can control the ball and guys who can control play.”

Bain is hoping for a little more oomph from his guys as the season progresses. In Tuesday’s win at Shenendehowa’s new turf field facility, the hosts had a first-half goal erased on an offsides call, and missed the goal on a penalty kick opportunity in each half coupled with Thurn’s saves.

“I’m trying to get us to be more patient,” Bain explained “I’m looking for them to make a couple of extra passes to create more [scoring] opportunities.”

Images: Shenendehowa boys’ soccer takes on Niskayuna Tuesday (15 photos)

Before the Columbia game Monday, Shenendehowa had lost to Shaker 1-0, beaten Guilderland 5-4 and lost to Pennsylvania’s Cathedral Prep 2-1.

“When you play Bethlehem and Niskayuna and Saratoga at the end of the season, you are going to be in battles,” Bain said. “It’s almost like the sectionals.”

Halftime: Shenendehowa led 1-0. Niskayuna scoring: None. Shenendehowa scoring: Clarke 1-0, B. Tymeson 0-1. Goalies: Niskayuna, Thurn, 9 saves. Shenendehowa: S. Tymeson, 1 save; Stump, 0 saves.

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