Guilderland kept the rematch from last year’s Section II title game from becoming another offensive shootout.
The Lady Dutch swarmed from inside the circle to the midfield line, and with eight different players providing the goals, rolled to a 12-8 Suburban Council victory Tuesday at Niskayuna.
“We wanted to go out really aggressive and fight for everything,” said Guilderland senior defender Nicole Levine. “We weren’t going to back down.”
Guilderland held Niskayuna to a season-low goal total and surrendered only one goal in a stretch of over 23 minutes to begin the second half of the contest pitting unbeaten teams.
“Everything starts with defense. We held it together. We were able to hold it down, and the rest of the team went from there,” said Lady Dutch senior defender Kelsey Michele. “Niskayuna has really good players. We were really focused on shutting them down.”
Niskayuna was one goal better last season when it edged Guilderland for the area Class A championship, 15-14, in a game that was tied eight different times and had four lead changes. None of that happend in the rematch of state-ranked teams as Guilderland (6-0, 7-0) displayed its defensive prowess right from the start.
“We’ve been stressing defense more this year. We’ve been working hard on it,” said Guilderland coach Gary Chatnik. “Our defense has been very solid, and it’s our midfield that completes it. You’ve got to stop them at the [center] line. Knock down passes. Stop drives. Our midfielders did that today. They played hard.”
“I give them a lot of credit. They played great defense at the midfield,” said Niskayuna senior midfielder Ritchie Assini. “They didn’t make it easy for us to push the ball up, but it was good to see that now so we can work on it and get better at it. We’ll definitely see that pressure again.”
Niskayuna (5-1, 5-1) had a difficult time when it did get the ball near Guilderland’s cage. All-American Kayla Treanor scored three goals for the Silver Warriors, but no other player had more than one.
“Their backer zone is tough. You’re not going to drive on them for goals. If you don’t move the ball, you’re not going to score,” said Niskayuna coach Peter Melito. “You’ve got to move the ball and catch the ball. We’ve done it. It works. Today, it didn’t work for us. We didn’t catch it enough.”
“We were trying to move the ball quickly and didn’t get the looks we wanted,” said Assini.
Guilderland harrassed and often hurried Niskayuna’s offensive cast with a group led by the junior trio of Christine Bolognino, Jenna Walsh and Kara Carman, as well as Michele and Levine. Jess Madsen made five saves behind them.
“They’re all stepping up this year. They’re all bonding and jelling,” said Madsen, one of 10 seniors on the Guilderland roster. “They’re picking each other up after mistakes and helping each other out.”
Guilderland pinned down a Niskayuna team that had put up 16, 14 and 21 goals in its three wins beforeTuesday meeting.
“Niskayuna is the best team we’ve played,” said Chatnik. “They have so many guns. We couldn’t focus on one person. Everyone had to go hard all the time.”
Sophomore Morgan Hardt was Guilderland’s top point producer with four goals and an assist, and the 6-foot-1 attacker also played a key role taking center draws along with freshman Rebecca Golderman.
“What really hurt us was the draw circle. I’d say they had to have won 90 percent of the draws today,” said Melito. “It was stuff that came off the circle. In the air and on the ground. We were flat in the circle, and in this game possession is everything.”
Guilderland took the lead 38 seconds in on a goal by Michaela Maybee, and Kelly Camardo made it 2-0 with 1:25 elapsed on the clock. The Lady Dutch later went up, 4-1, 5-3 and 6-4 when Hardt scored with 25 seconds left in the half.
“I felt a confidence boost in the team,” Madsen said of Guilderland’s fast start. “We got a little momentum going, and we wanted to score more.”
Guilderland put the game away with a pair of three-goal runs in the second half, Kendall Cietek, Hardt and Maybee supplying the goals in the first spurt that took less than four minutes. After Assini countered, Shannon Mackesey, Ali Cardinal and Cara Quimby scored for the Lady Dutch to make it 12-5 with 11:41 left.
Guilderland clipped another state-ranked team Saturday in Canandaigua, 11-10, as a prelude to Tuesday’s contest.
“We’re working hard and a lot of good things are happening,” said Chatnik. “We’re not where we want to be, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Treanor scored two goals and Carrie Hanks added another in a Niskayuna run inside the final two minutes. Hanks also had a game-high two assists, and eighth-grade goaltender Asa Golderman made eight saves for Niskayuna.
“For us, we’ve got to take this as a learning experience,” said Melito. “There’s still time for us to get a lot better. If it was in May and this was a playoff game, we’d be crying.”
“We can take a lot from this game,” said Assini. “We saw some things we need to work on.”
Guilderland 6 6 — 12
Niskayuna 4 4 — 8
Guilderland scoring: Michaela Maybee 2-0, Kelly Camardo 1-1, Shelby Iapoce 1-1, Morgan Hardt 4-1, Kendall Cietek 1-0, Shannon Mackesey 1-0, Ali Cardinal 1-0, Cara Quimby 1-0. Niskayuna scoring: Cat Sexton 1-0, Kayla Treanor 3-0, Carrie Hanks 1-2, Ritchie Assini 1-0, Kelly Schlansker 1-1, Erin Down 1-0.
Goaltenders: Guilderland, Jess Madsen, 5 saves. Niskayuna, Asa Goldstock, 8 saves.