When Carrie Hanks’ feed sailed high, Anna Torri was ready.
Torri batted in a waist-high crossing pass from Hanks into the cage, and Niskayuna finally got the best of Shenendehowa, 1-0, in another overtime Section II Class A field hockey championship game Sunday night at Steuerwald Stadium.
“I work on it all the time. It’s a skill you work on at camps,” Torri said of her goal 2:05 into the extra session. “I’ve never done it before in a game, so this is like a dream come true. It’s hard to time it.”
Niskayuna threatened time and again before finally ending Sunday’s scoreless deadlock, and Shenendehowa’s grip on the large-school title. The Lady Plainsmen had beaten the Silver Warriors in the last two finals, with both games decided in overtime.
“For a split second, I thought this can’t be like last year, then I thought, ‘I have confidence in them. My team is smart and they know when to pass off,’ ” said Niskayuna coach Alison Broomhead. “We end up getting a perfect goal because it was quick.”
Torri’s goal gave Niskayuna (16-2) its third win over Shenendehowa (13-6) this season, and its third Section II title in seven years. Niskayuna also beat Shenendehowa in the 2006 final, 1-0, and topped Saratoga Springs in 2009, 2-1.
“This was our main goal. The Suburban Council championship is one thing, but this is a whole other thing,” said Torri, a senior forward. “We were so hungry for this.
“We were hoping it wouldn’t go overtime, but we’ve been good at it. When it came, we handled it.”
Torri and Hanks came up big for Niskayuna in the 2010 final with late second-half goals to tie it before Shenendehowa prevailed, 3-2. Shenendehowa outlasted Niskayuna in double overtime in last fall’s title matchup, 2-1.
“I told the girls the desire has to be there, and everyone has to step up,” said Broomhead. “They didn’t want to walk off the field not accomplishing what they wanted to do.”
“This means so much. I’ve been on the team three years and the first two ended with us losing to Shenendehowa in overtime,” said Hanks, a junior midfielder. “We finally got it done.”
Hanks interceped a pass in Niskayuna’s end, dribbled to the right of the cage and sent a crossing pass toward Torri, who was positioned in front of Shenendehowa netminder Melissa Nealon.
“I accelerated past her [a defender], and settled it in,” said Hanks. “I was hoping to get a nice cross, but I got under it and it went up.”
“Any time Carrie Hanks gets the ball, you’ve got to be aware that something can happen,” Shenendehowa coach Jeanne Frevola said of the national team player. “Something happened.”
Torri quick-sticked the ball past Nealon for her second playoff goal this year, having also connected in a 3-0 semifinal win over Columbia. Torri’s shot was the only one in overtime by either team.
“Carrie was in a tough spot to send the ball off,” said Broomhead. “Anna was in the right spot at the right time. She has really quick stick work, and that helped her bat it in.”
Niskayuna had a great opportunity with 8:35 left in the second half when Alexa Angerami took a feed from Hanks and drove the ball from about 10 yards away, only to have Nealon make a blocker save. Earlier in the half, at the 18-minute mark, Kate Batzinger’s hard drive from the top of the circle sailed inches wide right.
Those chances came on two of Niskayuna’s eight second-half penalty corners, and the Silver Warriors were awarded 11 of them in all, compared to Shenendehowa’s three.
“It was frustrating. We dominated most of the game, and on our corners we executed but didn’t play them out,” said Broomhead. “We didn’t put it in.”
It didn’t take long for that to change.
“Our thought before the overtime was, ‘We came this far and worked so hard,’ ” said Torri. “‘This time, it has to be something different.’”
Niskayuna outshot Shenendehowa, 11-4, and Emily King got the shutout with four saves. The junior netminder made her best stop with 14:45 remaining in the second half, diving to stick away a bid by Casey Stata.
Shenendehowa was attempting to become the first Class A team to win three straight titles since Saratoga in 1992-94.
BH-BL Class B champ
Amy LeBel, Nicole Beardsley, Meghan Largo and Ashley LaMere were among the stars in Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s 3-1 Class B title-game win over Johnstown, and LeBel was the only one who had any points.
Rushing out of the cage, the feisty group helped deny high-scoring Johnstown on 11 of 12 penalty corners, which played a significant role in the Spartans’ first championship since 2007.
“We’ve seen a lot of corners this year. We were ready,” said LeBel, who, along with Beardsley, served as the Spartans’ flyers. “Every time we were in the cage, we thought, ‘Focus, and get it out.’ We trust each other. If someone misses a ball, we know someone else will be there.”
Johnstown got its only goal with 47 seconds left in the first half when Ashley Dona scored after a save by Brittany Ryan, on the Lady Bills’ eighth penalty corner, to tie the contest at 1-1.
“Johnstown likes to play up top [on penalty corners],” said BH-BL coach Kelly Vrooman. “If you can shut them down, you can have success.”
Ryan backed her teammates with nine saves, and Christina Krowel, LeBel and Aubrey Kamppila scored the goals as BH-BL (12-7) avenged semifinal losses to Johnstown (17-2) the last two years.
“This is sweet for us,” said Vrooman. “I’m so thankful that we play a schedule that includes teams like Niskayuna, Shenendehowa and Saratoga. Nothing is easy in those games, and they got us ready.”
LeBel assisted on Krowel’s goal on a drive from the top of the circle 4:51 into the game, that coming on one of BH-BL’s four corners. LeBel broke the 1-1 tie 3:58 into the second half on a close-range goal after Kamppila’s strong right-to-left feed.
“She’s so good,” LeBel said of Kamppila. “She crushed the ball past everybody. It went over a Johnstown player’s stick, and I tapped it in.”
Kamppila all but sealed the victory on a goal with 3:26 left, batting the ball in from close range after LeBel’s drive deflected high off a defender’s stick.
Johnstown outshot BH-BL, 10-7, and Lady Bills’ netminder Alyssa Pertell made four saves. Johnstown brought a 17-game win streak into its title defense.
Dona broke a tie with Kayla May for the Johnstown single-season scoring record, notching her 39th this fall, and the 80th of her career.
Monica Dore and Abby Dusha scored in overtime strokes, and Samantha Whitehouse made a diving save to clinch Greenwich’s 1-0 win over Hoosick Falls in the Class C championship game.
Greenwich (18-1) held a 2-1 lead in the stroke round when Whitehouse dove and stopped a drive by Carsen Williams on Hoosick Falls’ fifth attempt. Whitehouse made four saves in the stroke session and 10 overall.
“When 7-on-7 [overtime] ended, I knew strokes were coming,” said Whitehouse, a junior. “I had to get in a zone, and I guess I was.”
Madeline Ryan scored for Hoosick Falls (15-4).
Greenwich won its fourth straight Class C title. The Witches reached the state final last season.