When you’re a top lacrosse team, everyone comes gunning for you. Guilderland fired back Thursday with an offensive cast that’s quickly rounding into form.
“We played well at times, and we played hard,” coach Gary Chatnik said after the Lady Dutch defeated fast-rising Shenendehowa, 17-11, in the rain at Steuerwald Stadium. “There were a lot of positives. Still, there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Guilderland shook off a slow start to pile up a season-high goal total after beating Bethlehem (16-3) and Columbia (15-8) in its initial Suburban Council games. Guilderland took command with an 8-2 spurt that spanned the first and second halves, and featured three straight goals by first-year starter Shannon Mackesey.
“We’re getting to know each other, and we’re getting to know how we all play,” said Mackesey, a junior who finished with a career-high five goals and an assist. “Every single day, we’re getting better. The chemistry is getting better.”
Guilderland has only one offensive figure who saw significant action during last season’s run to the Section II Class A final in Morgan Hardt. The James Madison-bound junior equaled Mackesey with five goals and added two assists, while Rebecca Golderman delivered three goals and Ali Cardinal and Cara Quimby notched two apiece.
“You can see the talent, but it’s raw talent,” said Chatnik. “They’ve got to believe in themselves and move the ball.”
Guilderland moved the ball well when it pulled away, yet lacked offensive flow for much of the first half. Maddie O’Shea’s goal sliced Guilderland’s lead to 5-3 with 2:11 left in the first half.
“I’m very pleased overall. I’m not pleased with the beginning,” said Chatnik. “That’s lack of playing time. We didn’t get a lot of scrimmage opportunities, and these early games are like everyone is in the preseason it seems.”
Cardinal scored just 26 seconds into the game, and Katie Kerner and O’Shea answered for the Lady Plainsmen (3-2). Guilderland wrestled the lead away with 14:14 left on a goal by Mackesey to make it 3-2, and didn’t connect again until Quimby struck with 7:38 to go.
A Mackesey goal at the 7:09 mark had the Lady Dutch on top, 5-2.
“We’ve got to work on the start. Scoring right off the bat,” said Mackesey. “And when we miss a goal, we can’t hang our heads. We’ve got to stay after it. We’ve got to stay aggressive.”
Golderman scored with 1:43 left in the first half, and Hardt scored 25 seconds after that to boost Guilderland’s advantage to 7-3. Those free position goals started Guilderland’s 8-2 flurry.
“We’re more talented on offense than we were last year. Where we need work is on defense,” said Shenendehowa coach Jen Sykes. “To play Shaker and Guilderland in back-to-back games, it showed us where we need to tighten the reins.
“Being a defensive coach, that can be corrected. You’ve got to dig in, defensively.”
Golderman scored 25 seconds into the second half, and after Lindsey Waring answered for Shenendehowa, Mackesey connected three times in a span of less than two minutes on two strong runs toward the cage and a free position in between. Cardinal and Hardt had goals following Nicole DaCunha’s tally for Shenendehowa as Guilderland’s advantage gew to 13-5.
Consecutive goals by Hardt later on made it 16-7.
“We were looking for each other,” said Mackesey. “We just wanted to keep the momentum going.”
Chatnik credited his defensive group of Jenna Walsh, Christine Bolognino, Kara Carman and newcomer Brittany Pulliam for triggering Guilderland’s attack. Along with Hardt, Walsh, Bolignino and Carman made the Suburban Council all-star team last season.
“Everything started with them getting the ball up the field,” Chatnik said. “The defense caused turnovers and got the ball up there, and we moved, got open and didn’t drop the ball. We practice this. It worked out nicely, and it was great to watch.”
O’Shea led Shenendehowa with four goals, two of them coming after Quimby had increased Guilderland’s lead to 17-8.
“We’re a good team that’s on the verge of breaking through,” said Sykes, whose Lady Plainsmen beat Ballston Spa (14-2), Niskayuna (14-4) and Saratoga Springs (18-5) before the setbacks against Shaker (17-8), the reigning Section II Class A champion, and Guilderland. “We need two or three more weeks of grinding through practice. We need to correct some strategic things.”
Guilderland 7 10 — 17
Shenendehowa 3 8 — 11
Guilderland scoring: Ali Cardinal 2-0, Rebecca Golderman 3-0, Shannon Mackesey 5-1, Cara Quimby 2-1, Morgan Hardt 5-2. Shenendehowa scoring: Kristen Connors 1-2, Maddie O’Shea 4-1, Lindsey Waring 1-0, Katie Kerner 1-0, Nicile DaCunha 1-1, Rachel Pichi 1-0, Kelly Wall 1-0, Anna Branch 1-0.
Goalkeepers: Guilderland, Kaitlyn Hess, 3 saves. Shenendehowa, Sheeva Massoudi, 4 saves.