SCHENECTADY — Starting strong and finishing the same way is something the Niskayuna boys’ lacrosse team desires to do.
The reigning Section II Class B champion Silver Warriors got half of that right Tuesday in a matchup with 2022 area Class C titlist Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.
“We’ve had a couple of games where we had a late start,” Niskayuna senior defender Dylan Coan said after his team surged for a 17-6 Suburban Council win at Union’s College Park Field. “It’s something the entire team has to work on.”
Niskayuna found itself trailing 4-3 midway through the second quarter before stringing five unanswered goals spanning the two halves, and put Burnt Hills away with an 8-0 run in the last period.
“We really didn’t want to lose this game,” junior midfielder Tanner Williams said after Niskayuna improved to 3-0 in the league and 5-0 overall. “We stepped up our game. In the second half we came out with a lot more energy.”
Burnt Hills had a load of energy while building its first-half lead.
“It was good to string some good things together,” first-year Burnt Hills coach Jason LaPietro said. “We don’t want to get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. We want to just keep on working and getting better, and be the best we can be in May.”
Williams paced Niskayuna with four goals and three assists, and the Stony Brook commit kick-started his team’s key 5-0 spurt with a score and then an assist on a goal by Lucas Klokiw late in the second quarter, and another goal early in the third.
Braeden Kerr also had four goals for the Silver Warriors including the last one in the 5-0 run that made it 8-4, and fellow midfielders Klokiw and Dillon Licht finished with three goals and a pair of assists and two goals and an assist, respectively.
“[Jackson] Massaroni started winning faceoffs in bunches and we had opportunities to score,” Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang said.
Burnt Hills defender Bernie Townsend made sure US Lacrosse All-American Greyson Vorgang wasn’t among the offensive stars in this one, with the Denver-bound senior attackman collecting a goal and three assists. Vorgang’s only point in the first three quarters came on a feed when Williams tied the game at 4-4. The Spartans also limited Niskayuna attackers Saif Chowdhrey to two goals — both in the last quarter — and Davey Carroll to a goal and two assists.
“Our guys did a good job with their long poles,” LaPietro said of his close defense that was led by Townsend, Joe Spade and Brandon Pomeroy. “We needed to have their middies beat us, and that’s what they did.”
“They were trying to make sure certain guys didn’t touch the ball,” Vorgang said. “When that happens, somebody needs to step up and make plays. They did, it just took a while.”
Williams and Licht scored in the game’s first minute, and Colden Swisher and Lucas Donahue answered for Burnt Hills before a goal by Kerr in the last second gave Niskayuna a 3-2 lead after one.
T.J. Tullock and Swisher scored in the second frame to push Burnt Hills (0-1, 1-3) ahead 4-3. Niskayuna came on afterward, just as it had in a previous 14-9 win over reigning Section II Class A champ Shenendehowa. In that game, Niskayuna trailed 3-2 before outscoring the Plainsmen 11-2 in the middle quarters.
“We missed a couple of ground balls that they [Burnt Hills] cashed in on,” Mike Vorgang said. “Early on we took a couple shots that hit the pipe. Their goalie made some saves. That slowed our momentum.”
Swisher and Ryan Lussier scored consecutive goals to get Burnt Hills within 8-6 in the third quarter, and Burnt Hills went scoreless over the final 13 minutes while Niskyuna began to score with regularity in its fifth double-digit outing.
“They figured some things out,” LaPietro said.
Licht made it 9-6 heading into the last period when Niskayuna finished off another 2022 Section II champion.
“They came in with a great game plan on offense and defense,” said Vorgang, whose team had the experience advantage over Burnt Hills, which is still fitting pieces together due to the loss of a dozen seniors. “They do a good job at Burnt Hills, obviously.”
Burnt Hills reached the state semifinals for the first time last season, while Niskayuna saw its season end in the regional round.
“We believe we have a chance at states, but we’ve got to get better,” Williams said. “Better with our communication. With the way we want to spread out the offense. With our wing play [on faceoffs] and when we are in our transition game.”
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 2 2 2 0 — 6
Niskayuna 3 2 4 8 — 17
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Bailey 0-1, Tullock 1-0, Swisher 3-0, Lussier 1-1, Frame 0-1, Donahue 1-0. Niskayuna scoring: Vorgang 1-3, Carroll 1-2, Chowdhrey 2-0, Klokiw 3-2, Williams 4-3, Licht 2-1, Kerr 4-0. Goalkeepers: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Swift, 11 saves. Niskayuna, Harvey, 6 saves; Katz, 2 saves.