Tom Schwan had a lot of reasons to be happy Saturday, and reaching a milestone was just one of them.
“Our lacrosse IQ is really improving. We’re starting to pick it up,” Schwan said after Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake topped Scotia-Glenville, 9-4, for its fourth consecutive win. “It’s not always pretty, but we’re getting in spots and getting in places, and good things are starting to happen.”
Burnt Hills played shutout defense during a stretch of over 25 minutes, tightened up again to blank the Tartans in the final quarter and generated three quick man-up goals to gain control in Schwan’s 200th career victory.
“Before the game a couple of guys mentioned it,” said BH-BL junior attackman Austin Clark, who had two goals and two assists. “It was an important game for coach, and we wanted to get it for him.”
Will Clark and Eric Dillon notched two goals apiece, defenseman Logan Ball scored a goal after scooping up one of his team-high nine ground balls near midfield, and Ian Reed made half of his 12 saves in the last quarter to help keep the Tartans (5-2) at bay.
“He came up with big saves when we were trying to come back,” first-year Scotia-Glenville coach Bob Gula said of Reed, a junior. “When a goalie does that, it’ll burst your bubble.”
The Burnt Hills defense put an exclamation mark on the non-league win in the fourth quarter when it held Scotia-Glenville without a shot for a minute while two players down. Reed made a tough save soon after as the Spartans fended off another one-minute man advantage by the Tartans.
“Our defense played well. They were sliding and communicating well,” said Reed. “Coach wants it perfect, and for the majority of the game, we did that. That made my job easier.”
Ben Roberts, David Nusbaum and Packy Brown joined with Ball to form BH-BL’s long stick unit. Dillon, Billy Chapman, Dan Porter and Paul Krowel saw plenty of action at defensive midfield.
“This is the first week we’ve had all of our long poles healthy. We were dealing with a couple of injuries,” said Schwan. “They’re getting more confident with their on-ball defense, and they’re getting better at their slides.”
A goal by Scotia-Glenville’s Cullen Swider tied the game at one with 6:50 left in the opening quarter. Burnt Hills (4-3) produced seven goals before Swider had the next for the Tartans with 5:09 remaining in the third period.
“This is the fourth game in a row we’ve identified what they’re doing offensively, and what defensive package we should be in,” said Schwan. “And offensively, it was the exact same thing.”
“We’re definitely getting better at both ends,” said Dillon, a senior. “We’re grinding it out and getting better every day.”
Ball’s strong run to the cage and goal on a bouncer gave Burnt Hills a 4-1 lead with 61 seconds left in the first half. An illegal stick penalty 11 seconds later gave the Spartans a three-minute man-up, and they cashed in with three goals to begin the third quarter.
“That completely turned the game around,” said Austin Clark. “We had an opportunity, and we capitalized.”
“When you get a three minute non-releasable, your confidence goes up. You get a goal and the confidence goes up even more,” said Dillon. “It was perfect. It was a huge boost for us.”
Tom Kenneally scored for
BH-BL 45 seconds into the third period, Austin Clark delivered 26 seconds after that, and Will Clark connected 40 seconds later. Will Clark followed with an even strength goal 30 seconds after that to make it 8-1.
“Game changer,” said Schwan. “When a three goal game goes to seven goals in two minutes, it’s such a lift.
“We did some things we didn’t show in our first six games. We rotated a little different and moved a little different.”
Jack Mahar won nine faceoffs for BH-BL, including three in a row to start the third quarter.
“If you don’t win faceoffs, you’re not going to have the ball and score goals,” said Austin Clark. “You’re not going to win the game.”
Saturday’s win and previous victories over Queensbury, Columbia and Bethlehem left Schwan 36-27 in his three-plus seasons at Burnt Hills. He led Christian Brothers Academy and Guilderland teams before.
“Over my entire career, number one, I’ve been blessed with great groups of young men who have enjoyed playing the game,” said Schwan. “Number two, I been blessed with some wonderful assistant coaches, from P.J. Williams [at Guilderland} to Rich Scully and Tim Vivian [at CBA] to Jason LaPietro, Dave Ball and Shawn Kline here.”
Scotia-Glenville 1 0 3 0 — 4
Burnt Hills 2 2 4 1 — 9
Scotia-Glenville scoring: Cullen Swider 2-0, Connor Flaherty 1-2, Nick McCloskey 1-0, Zach Tripoli 0-1. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Eric Dillon 2-0, Billy Chapman 1-1, Will Clark 2-0, Austin Clark 2-2, Tom Kenneally 1-2, Logan Ball 1-0.
Goalkeepers: Scotia-Glenville, Justin DeHart, Ray Nazir, 10 saves. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Ian Reed, 12 saves.