SCHENECTADY — Niskayuna senior midfielder Emily Bateman thinks it’d be nice to go as far as possible in her final high school lacrosse season.
For the chance at a sectional title, of course. But, she’s really looking forward to spending more time with her teammates.
The group of 19 includes 10 seniors, but also seven underclassmen — four new to the team this season. Growing close has not taken long.
“We definitely do a lot of team bonding,” Bateman said after Niskayuna’s 10-7 win Tuesday over Guilderland in its season opener. “We’ve literally been with each other literally every day.”
As of Tuesday, they all had been together at least every one of the last nine days, including an overnight trip to Suffern. Last Saturday, they took part in a day of 25-minute scrimmages against teams from both upstate and downstate. The senior said they really took advantage of the time together.
“We stayed in a hotel the other night for a tournament, and we all had roommates,” said Bateman, who has three goals and two assists so far this season. “We all went to the lobby, we hung out, we played games and all this stuff, we went to dinner. We were with each other literally 24/7.”
Silver Warriors’ head coach Alexis Licht already sees the fruits of the togetherness that formed so quickly. She said a common refrain within the squad is that they’re “like a big U.” There is the large group of seniors on one end and the sizable group of youth on the other, but not as much in the middle. The seniors, who have played together since third grade, have stepped up.
“Those seniors are really taking the lead to help the freshmen and the eighth-grader figure out how this all works, and how it goes and how to be composed and stay composed, just all the different assets,” said Licht, whose daughter Abigail is the lone eighth-grader.
Their season opener earlier this week shined a light on the glue forming between all the girls both on and off the field. A police operation nearby, involving a suicidal individual barricaded in a home, allegedly with a gun, caused a lockout at Schenectady High School and an abrupt pause to their first game. But, as Bateman spoke about Tuesday, the focus was on sticking together and keeping each other safe.
Once they were back on the field, Guilderland took a quick 2-0 lead. The Lady Dutch’s midfield pair of Elizabeth Schafer and Maddy Petti fronted an extended-period of pressure on Niskayuna’s cage, bearing right down the middle of the Silver Warriors’ defense.
Alexis Licht commended the response of her defenders, a senior-laden group led by captain Jane Biaglow, particularly for the adjustments they made by trusting each other to make plays. Licht was also quick to praise her midfield, made up entirely of returning players.
The pace of Bateman and freshman Ava Roemer turned their teammates’ defensive stops into transition opportunities, and began returning the pressure. The midfield scored five of the team’s 10 goals and contributed four assists.
“That whole midfield unit as a whole have come together really well to be able to make that transition happen, and to hang on to the ball and get in our end,” Alexis Licht said.
Senior attack Jackie Reffelt didn’t get on the scoresheet during Tuesday’s win, but both Alexis Licht and Bateman recognized the effort she put in for her team and the impact it was making. She was getting to the middle on defense and disrupting the Guilderland attack, and even swapped in for Bateman on draws after Schafer had so much first-half success for the Lady Dutch.
Reffelt said Tuesday that Niskayuna showed the progress it has made as a team and proved what it can do.
“It helps our momentum going into the season,” Reffelt said of getting the win. “We have a really young team, so it’s just nice to really work together and get the win together.”
The Silver Warriors were back in action on Thursday at Saratoga Springs, losing 13-5. On top of Bateman’s third goal, Reffelt scored a hat trick, and Addison Brys added the fifth. Roemer provided her second assist of the season.
Niskayuna is back on the field 1 p.m. Saturday at Schenectady High School against Kingston.
Reach Andrew Pugliese at 518-915-0499 or [email protected], and follow him @ByPugs on Twitter.
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