The Siena College field hockey team managed nine goals in its 15 games last season, and came away without a victory.
“They were in a lot of close games. A lot of 1-0, 2-1 games,” said Johnstown High School senior Ashley Dona. “They needed someone who could get the ball in there and finish.”
Dona wants to be that player. The Lady Bills’ record-holder for career and single-season goals will sign a national letter of intent with the Saints Friday. Dona will compete on athletic scholarship for the Northeast Conference team, and major in psychology.
“It’s definitely a goal of mine to earn a starting position and get some goals,” said the 18-year-old all-state forward, who scored 80 times over five varsity seasons. “It’s a program that’s building up, and I want to help it get there.”
Dona helped the ADK (Adirondack) under-19 club team in a big way at the National Field Hockey Festival in Florida over the Thanksgiving break with seven goals and five assists in six games. ADK went 5-0-1 and secured its first-ever gold medal at the prestigious event.
Dona got an invite to visit Siena from field hockey coach Kara Zappone soon after.
“I went on my visit, and I loved it,” said Dona. “I stayed with the team and the girls were so friendly. The school is great. I liked the classes because they’re small. Everything seemed close-knit.”
Dona also liked a lot about Hofstra University and its field hockey program.
“It was such a hard decision. Both schools are equal in a lot of ways,” said Dona. “When I thought it all out, it came down to being four hours away or one hour away, and the fact that my parents could come to my games. My parents mean a lot to me. I don’t think my mom has ever missed a game.”
“She’s excited about Siena, and we’re excited,” said Ronnie Dona, Ashley’s mom. “She got a nice [financial aid] package, and it will be good to have her so close so we can watch her.”
With her dodging ability and shooting accuracy, Dona scored a school-record 68 goals over the last two seasons to go with the 12 goals she picked up in three campaigns before at Gloversville. She scored 29 goals as a junior when Johnstown won the Section II Class B championship, and boosted her total to a school-record 39 this past season when the Lady Bills won the Foothills Council title and placed second in the section.
Kayla May, who is an assistant coach at Siena, had set Johnstown records with 38 goals for one season and 65 for a career as a senior in 2005.
“She [May] has been a role model of mine since day one. To break her records was an honor,” Dona said. “To play for her and coach Zappone, it’s going to be unbelievable.”
Dona was twice selected a Foothills Council first-team all-star, and has participated in the USA Futures program (Junior Olympic development) on under-16 and under-19 teams.
Pantalone to GW
Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons cross country standout Jordan Pantalone will continue his running career with George Washington University of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Pantalone placed fifth at the state meet in leading the Golden Knights to their first New York championship last fall. The senior’s victory at the Section II Class B meet beforehand helped them capture area honors for the first time since the 1982 season.
“He was so consistent for us,” Bishop Gibbons coach Jonathan Broderick said of the all-state first-team runner. “You knew he was always going to be there.”
Pantalone had his list narrowed to New York University, Northeastern and George Washington before accepting an athletic and academic package from the Washington, D.C.-based school. He will run for Colonials coach Terry Weir, and study political science.
“Some runners take a couple of years to get acclimated to the college level, but he can probably get in their top seven quickly,” said Broderick. “He has great drive.”
Pantalone played a key role as Bishop Gibbons went undefeated over the last three seasons in Big 10 duals, and followed up each campaign with a triumph at the league championship meet. His senior season included a first at the E.J. Herrmann Invitational and seconds at the Big 10 meet and Section One Coach’s Invitational.
His recent indoor track season included victories in the 600 at the Section II Division IV championships and in the 1,600 at the Big 10 championships.
Mathieu picks UAlbany
The roster of Section II football talent headed to the University at Albany grew even bigger with Kenny Mathieu’s recent commitment to play for the Great Danes and coach Bob Ford.
The Columbia running back and defensive back joins an incoming group that includes Ryan Griffin of Shaker, Nate Hatalsky of Mechanicville, Mike LaNoir of Glens Falls and J.P. McCauley of Queensbury.
Mathieu scored 10 touchdowns, rushed for 653 yards and was in on 32 tackles for the Class AA semifinalist Blue Devils.
Senior forward Tyler Bullard of Saratoga Springs’ state champion ice hockey team was named the New York Division I Player of the Year, and Blue Streaks coach David Torres has been selected the Division I Coach of the Year.
Bullard, who led the Streaks in goals (30) assists (29) and points (59), was previously tabbed the Section II co-Player of the Year.
Saratoga forward Nick Winters and defenseman Brendan Wormley made the all-state second team, and goaltender Dakota Smith was an honorable mention pick. Smith posted four shutouts in Saratoga’s six-game playoff run.
Saratoga (22-3-1) beat McQuaid, 5-0, to capture its second state championship, the first coming in 1999.
Aside from Saratoga being ranked No. 1, Shenendehowa (14-8-1) is ranked No. 13 on the final state sportswriters association Division I poll. Queensbury (11-8-3) is No. 12 among Division II teams.
School ball at ‘The Joe’
The Tri-City ValleyCats will host six high school baseball games involving several of Section II’s championship teams from last year on consecutive Fridays from April 26 through May 10 at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
The double-headers will have games at 4:30 and 7:30, with a $5 admission.
On April 26, Ballston Spa will play Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, and defending Suburban Council North Division champion Shenendehowa will take on Shaker. On May 3, Fort Plain will meet Saratoga Catholic in a game matching 2012 Western Athletic Conference Northern
Division co-champions, and Columbia will face Saratoga Springs. Columbia claimed the Suburban Council South Division and Section II Class AA titles last season.
The May 10 games will serve as a fundraiser for Coaches vs. Cancer. Guilderland will play Bethlehem before 2012 Big 10 champ Christian Brothers Academy tangles with Troy.