Niskayuna field hockey coach Alison Broomhead has always given some of her younger athletes ample playing time.
While trying to win games, she is, at the same time, thinking ahead.
“I have girls graduate like everyone else. I try to pick a couple of ninth- and 10th-graders who will learn quickly, with the idea that someday they will be our leaders,” said the sixth-year varsity coach.
The player cycle has worked well, with Niskayuna churning out competitive teams every year under Broomhead’s direction. The Silver Warriors won three Suburban Council titles over the last five seasons, and four times played for the Section II Class A championship, winning it in 2009.
Niskayuna’s 2011 team placed first in the Suburban Council with a 14-0 record, and became the first team to go through the league unbeaten since Shenendehowa in 2001. Niskayuna closed out at
16-2 overall after a 2-1 overtime setback against Shenendehowa in the Class A final. Niskayuna also lost to Shenendehowa in the 2010 final in overtime, 3-2.
“There hasn’t been much talk about last year because so many of those players are gone. I’m not sensing that overall feeling on the team that they have to get back there and make up for it,” said Broomhead. “It’s almost like it’s been wiped out.”
A dozen players graduated from the 2011 team, including seven first- and second-team league all-stars. Four starters are back in senior Alexa Angerami (midfield) and the junior trio of Ali Frary (forward), Carrie Hanks (midfield) and Emily King (goalkeeper). Eight lettermen return in all.
“It’s nice to start a season with players who know what I expect and have been in some games. We don’t have to go back to basics with all of them,” said Broomhead. “The veterans can help the new girls.”
Frary, Hanks and King saw plenty of action as freshmen and made an even greater impact last fall, with Frary collecting 11 goals and four assists, Hanks totaling seven goals and three assists and King recording 12 shutouts, including a sectional semifinal blanking of Guilderland. Frary and Hanks were honored as second-team league all-stars.
“We’re really starting to mesh well as a team,” said Broomhead. “Our veterans have been very good with their communication and support, and that’s helping the new girls adapt to our style of play.”
Broomhead said she’ll need significant contributions from the veterans, as well as the newcomers, to make this another successful season. The eight returnees are joined by 11 underclassmen who lost only two games at the junior varsity level.
“We can’t have an off game. We need to play 100 percent, and if we mess up, we have to recover in a second,” Broomhead said. “Our girls weren’t always on last year, but a couple would step up and we could still win. That was an amazing core group of girls. We need a collective effort.”
Niskayuna scrimmaged defending Section II Class B champion Johnstown last week.
“It was good to see our weaknesses and things we need to work on so we can go forward,” said Broomhead. “Defensively, we’ve got to get the ball quicker, but the main thing is to trust one another. Is someone going to be there to help out when we’re moving up, and on defense, is someone going to be there recovering.”
League play begins Wednesday with Niskayuna at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Shenendehowa at Saratoga Springs, Columbia at Bethlehem and Guilderland at Shaker. Saratoga returns a first-team SC all-star at three different positions on the field with Maclaine Matties (back), Emily Petruccione (midfield) and Sarah Ryan (forward).
Voorheesville senior Matt Parrottino earned medalist honors with a two-under-par 34 against Schalmont Wednesday on the back nine at Albany Country Club.
“He’s a very solid player. He’s been on varsity since eighth grade, and he’s been our No. 1 since ninth grade.” Blackbirds coach Tom Gladd said of the Colonial Council all-star. “I think some college coaches might be interested in having Matt after they saw him play.”
Parrottino led Voorheesville to a season-starting victory over Cobleskill-Richmondville before the Schalmont match, when he was eight strokes better than any other player on the course. Chris Amorosi of Schalmont fired a 42, and Voorheesville’s Dennis Ziamandanis shot a 43.
“He finished off a nice round with a seven-foot birdie putt on the 18th,” said Gladd.
Parrottino was Voorheesville’s first player to make it to the state tournament in a quarter-century last season when he placed ninth at the Section II qualifier. Before that, he placed sixth at the Section II Class ABCD event, and second at the Section II Class C-D and Colonial Council tournaments.
Here and there
Duanesburgh senior Sean McGarry is doing double duty this fall as one of the school’s top golfers and the starting quarterback for the new Duanesburg/Schoharie junior varsity football team. The football team makes its season debut today against Coxsackie-Athens at Duanesburg Elementary School. . . .
The Saratoga Central Catholic golf team got a boost this fall with the addition of freshman Kayla Szekely, the NENYPGA Junior Golf Tour’s top age 12-13 division player. The Saints’ lineup also includes freshman Chloe Ethier, who doubles as a volleyball player. . . .
Brothers Mark (varsity) and Gavin (junior varsity) Riggi have been selected football team captains at Mohonasen.