With a bunch of goals early and two big ones late, Shaker beat Guilderland Wednesday night in the Section II Class A girls’ lacrosse championship game, 9-8, at the University at Albany’s John Fallon Field.
Julia Lennon scored the tie-breaking goal after a tally by Maddie Devine, and the Blue Bison held on to deal the Lady Dutch their first loss while securing their first sectional flag in four tries.
“I was real tired. I was out of breath, but I was thinking, ‘This is an opportunity I have to take advantage of,’ ” Lennon said of her game-winning goal on a free position with 3:05 left. “I was thinking, ‘This could be it.’ I started left and changed to my right, and fired it to the low corner.”
Shaker (No. 2 seed, 16-1) soared to leads of 5-0 and 6-1 in the first half before Guilderland (No. 1, 18-1) went into comeback mode in an attempt to claim its fifth banner in six years.
“I knew it was a great lead too soon,” said Shaker coach Courtney Hill. “I figured it wouldn’t be that way for too long.”
Guilderland strung together four straight second-half goals, the first by Michaela Maybee and the next three by Morgan Hardt, to take an 8-7 lead with 11:15 left. Hardt hit the post, and Guilderland netminder Jess Madsen stopped a free-position attempt at the other end in a flurry of action before Hardt created that lead.
“We usually score more goals. That was our spurt, and we didn’t cash in after that,” said Guilderland coach Gary Chatnik. “We had our opportunities, and didn’t finish.”
Guilderland was hampered in the waning minutes when two yellow cards left the Lady Dutch two players down, and an offsides call cost them a key possession.
“We knew Guilderland wasn’t going to give up,” said Lennon, a junior midfielder. “Our heads dropped a little, but we kept pushing. We worked all year for this.”
“This is the best feeling I’ve had in my life,” Hill said after Shaker avenged a 12-6 regular-season loss to the Lady Dutch. “I’ve been here four years and we’ve never been able to beat Guilderland. We’ve always left heartbroken. This is the first time we’re leaving with tears of joy and not tears of sorrow.”
Lauren Smith, Kaitlyn Cheney, Devine, Lennon and Sarah Cheney delivered the early goals for Shaker (No. 2, 15-2), and Smith's second tally made it 6-1 with 6:32 remaining in the first half. Cara Quimby began Guilderland's counter surge with a free-position goal, and Kendall Cietek connected twice within 26 seconds to make it 6-4 at the break.
Anne Rehfuss began the second-half scoring for Shaker.
“They got the draws. They played a lot of offense, and their goalie made some nice saves,” Chatnik said of Shaker’s early advantage. “They did a good job of ball control on us.”
Senior netminder Anne Morrison was among Shaker’s standouts with nine saves, several of them on close-range attempts.
She stopped a pair of free-position shots when Shaker was building its first-half lead.
“She was in a zone and ready to go,” Hill said. “She did a great job.”
“You have to give credit to our defense and our goalie,” said Kaitlyn Cheney, a senior midfielder. “When they play well like they did tonight, it fires everyone else up.”
Guilderland beat Shaker in sectional finals in 2007, 2008 and 2010, and topped Bethlehem in 2009. Niskayuna ended Guilderland's run with a 15-14 triumph in last year's large-school final, and the Lady Dutch found themselves in another thriller Wednesday in a game matching Suburban Council division winners, only to fall short again.
All three Section II champions will see action in regional finals against the Section I-IX winners Saturday at UAlbany.
Just call it the year of the Spartans.
No, not those Spartans. The other ones from up north, who put on a fabulous offensive display in the first half and rode it to their first Section II title.
Queensbury produced 11 unanswered goals in the opening 25 minutes, four coming off the stick of Emma Morrissey, and beat Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in a reversal of last year’s Class B final, 12-8.
“They jumped right on us. Give them credit. They did what they needed to do,” said Burnt Hills coach Jake McHerron. “Possession is the key, and they had it. Then we started to get it.”
Though Burnt Hills put together a spirited comeback in a bid to defend its title, the 11-0 deficit was too great to overcome.
“In the first half, we were outhustling Burnt Hills. We played strong as a team,” Queensbury coach Rita Hawkins said after her Spartans won for the 10th straight time. “We didn’t expect Burnt Hills to go away. We were happy to have that lead.”
First-half momentum swung quickly when Burnt Hills posted a free-position shot and Christie Raymond scored on one at the other end for the Spartans (No. 1, 17-1) of the Foothills Council. Sam Ballard and Morrissey connected 11 seconds apart for a 3-0 Queensbury lead 5:22 in, and Morrissey’s fourth goal with 1:26 left capped the first-half assault that included two goals apiece by Raymond and Casey White.
“We were working it around, cutting and making good shots,” said Morrissey, a sophomore attack. “We were really confident and ready to win this game.”
Burnt Hills (No. 2, 10-8) got goals from Nicole Beardsley, Jordyn Godfrey and Cat Clark before the second half was five minutes old.
Albany Academy captured its fifth straight Class C championship, and fourth in a row at Glens Falls’ expense, with a 9-5 comeback victory.
Albany Academy extended its Section II record for lacrosse titles to 10, while ending Glens Falls’ 17-game winning streak.
SHAKER 9, GUILDERLAND 8
Shaker 6 3 — 9
Guilderland 4 4 — 8
Shaker scoring: Lauren Smith 2-1, Kaitlyn Cheney 1-0, Maddie Devine 2-1, Julia Lennon 2-0, Sarah Cheney 1-0, Anne Rehfuss 1-0. Guilderland scoring: Kelly Camardo 1-0, Cara Quimby 1-0, Kendall Cietek 2-0, Michaela Maybee 1-0, Morgan Hardt 3-0.
Goaltenders: Shaker, Anne Morrison, 9 saves. Guilderland, Jessica Madsen, 3 saves.
QUEENSBURY 12, BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE 8
Burnt Hills-Ball. Lake 0 8 — 8
Queensbury 11 1 — 12
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Nicole Beardsley 1-0, Jordyn Godfrey 2-2, Mackenzie LeVan 2-1, Cat Clark 1-1, Amy LeBel 1-0, Haley Schultz 1-0. Queensbury scoring: Christie Raymond 2-0, Sam Ballard 1-2, Emma Morrissey 4-1, Casey White 2-2, Mary Rahal 1-0, Sami Hawkins 1-1, Lindsey White 1-0.
Goaltenders: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Lexie Ball, 9 saves. Queensbury, Courtney Jenkins, 6 saves.
ALBANY ACADEMY 9, GLENS FALLS 5
Glens Falls 5 0 — 5
Albany Academy 4 5 — 9
Glens Falls scoring: Hannah Hayward 1-0, Christine Hogan 1-0, Caitlin Corbett 2-0, Chloe Knapp 1-3, Erin Murphy 0-2, Sarah Frandsen 0-1. Albany Academy scoring: Emma Malicki 3-0, Emily Martin 0-2, Emma Hardy 2-2, Brianna Hart 1-1, Emily Downie 2-0, Emily Martin 1-2.
Goaltenders: Glens Falls, Jillian Rizzo, 10 saves. Albany Academy, Alex Macaffer, 8 saves.