Haley Schultz kept scoring timely goals. Lexie Ball kept making saves on point-blank drives.
Behind the two freshmen, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake forged a dramatic comeback victory Thursday and earned a shot at its second Section II Class B lacrosse championship.
“This says we have heart and we have skills,” Schultz said after the Spartans rallied twice down the stretch in an 11-10 semifinal win over Niskayuna. “We can do anything if we put our minds to it. We had to go with everything we had.”
Schultz scored in the middle of a three-goal run to close the second half, and connected twice in overtime, with the midfielder’s tally in sudden death capping a classic between up-and-coming Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and a Niskayuna team with five sectionals titles to its credit.
“Niskayuna is a great, storied program,” said BH-BL coach Jack McHerron. “My heart goes out to them, especially their seniors, but I’m happy for us. I hope we can keep it going.”
Niskayuna (No. 2 seed, 10-6) had built an 8-5 lead on Jill Macri’s second-half goal, and went up again,
9-8, when Kelly Schlansker delivered in the first three-minute overtime session. Schultz and teammate Jordyn Godfrey scored in the second three-minute OT period, and Marci answered to bring on sudden death.
“You don’t know how bad we wanted this,” said Ball. “We want to go far. Win and you’re in, lose and you’re out. That’s what we’re living by.”
Ball’s eight saves included stops on three free-position opportunities by the Silver Warriors in overtime. The last of those came on an attempt by Schlansker just before Schultz notched the game-deciding goal that thrust BH-BL (No. 3, 11-6) into its third straight Class B final.
Ball also denied Macri and Cat Sexton on frees after Marci had tied the contest at 10.
“It’s a feeling you get. You have to do it for the team,” Ball said of her key stops. “I had to pull through when the pressure was on.”
“She stepped up big when she needed to. For a freshman to do that . . . She plays with a lot of confidence,” said McHerron. “She had the back of the rest of the players.”
Bri Sacks was Niskayuna’s star player with six goals and an assist, while Sexton had five assists and netminder Asa Goldstock made 12 saves, including three in overtime.
Sacks scored five straight goals to help Niskayuna turn a 4-2 first-half deficit into a 7-4 second-half advantage.
“My seniors are upset because their season is over. My underclassmen feel they let the seniors down,” said first-year Niskayuna coach Alison Broomhead. “In my eyes, they played as a unit, and we had some phenomenal efforts.
“It’s just disappointing to get one game in the sectionals and be done.”
Schultz ended it with 1:17 left in sudden death when she handled a pass from Godfrey and beat Goldstock with a high rip. Goldstock got a piece of the ball.
“I did a little dilly-dally, saw the open net and took it, high right corner,” said Schultz, before adding. “This is the best feeling in the world. This is my third year on the team, and we had never beaten them.”
Niskayuna defeated Burnt Hills, 12-10, earlier this month in Suburban Council action.
“Little breaks in our play made such a huge impact,” said Broomhead. “They were able to benefit from it.”
Eighth-grader Taylor Safford sandwiched goals around another by Schultz as Burnt Hills pulled even at 8-8 late in the second half. Godfrey fed Safford from behind the cage, and Safford one-timed the ball past Goldstock for the tying goal with two minutes left.
“It all starts with the little things,” McHerron said of his team’s comeback. “Win center draws, get 50-50 balls, and the results take care of themselves.”
Burnt Hills lost standout attacker Nicole Beardsley to a second yellow card with 13:20 left in the second half, and Sacks’ two goals soon after boosted Niskayuna’s lead to 7-4. Emily Ankabrandt followed with a goal for BH-BL, and Marci made it 8-5 with 4:52 left.
“It shows the character we’ve established in our program,” McHerron said of playing without Beardsley, who scored her team-leading 57th goal early in the game. “It’s not about one individual. It was everybody pulling together as one.”
Burnt Hills and Queensbury (No. 1, 16-0) will meet for the Class B championship Wednesday at 5:30 at the University at Albany. Queensbury roughed up Averill Park in its semifinal, 20-8.
“Queensbury is a great team, and we’ve got to come out ready to go,” said McHerron, whose Spartans lost to Queensbury to open the season, 17-12. “Nothing is going to come easy.”
Burnt Hills won its only Section II title by beating Queensbury in 2011, 12-11. Queensbury prevailed in a title-game rematch last spring, 12-8.
Mary Rahal had seven goals and an assist, and Allison Butler collected a goal and eight assists for Queensbury Thursday. Caitlin O’Shea scored four goals for Averill Park (No. 4, 6-12).
Emma Malicki piled up seven goals and four assists, and Emma Hardy amassed seven goals and eight points to propel Albany Academy (No. 1, 16-2) past Schuylerville, 16-5, in a Class C semifinal.
Meg Young had two goals and an assist for the Black Horses (No. No. 4, 8-9).
Francesca Gundrum scored four goals and set up another, and Natalie Kiley-Bergen also notched four goals as Emma Willard (No. 3, 12-3) defeated Glens Falls, 12-5, in the other semifinal.
Emma Morrissey scored two goals for the Indians (No. 2, 12-5).
Albany Academy, the five-time defending Class C champ, will take on Emma Willard Wednesday at 3:30 at UAlbany.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE 11,
NISKAYUNA 10 (2OT)
BH-BL 4 4 0 2 1 — 11
Niskayuna 4 4 1 1 0 — 10
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Haley Schultz 3-0, Taylor Safford 2-0, Jordyn Godfrey 1-3, Christina Krowel 1-0, Nicole Beardsley 1-0, Amy LeBel 1-1, Mackenzie LeVan 1-1, Emily Ankabrandt 1-0. Niskayuna scoring: Bri Sacks 6-1, Cat Sexton 0-5, Isabelle Curro 1-0, Carly Kirchner 0-1, Anna Picardi 0-1, Jill Macri 2-0, Kelly Schlansker 1-0.
Goalkeepers: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Lexie Ball, 8 saves. Niskayuna Asa Goldstock, 12 saves.
QUEENSBURY 20, AVERILL PARK 8
Averill Park 5 3 — 8
Queensbury 12 8 — 20
Averill Park scoring: Morgan Lionarons 1-0, Sofi Sofiento 1-0, Emily Halpin 2-0, Caitlin O’Shea 4-0. Queensbury scoring: Lindsey White 2-1, Katie Zilka 3-0, Emma Morrissey 1-1, Allison Butler 1-8, Christie Raymond
4-1, Casey White 2-0, Mary Rahal 7-1, Katie Buhner 0-1.
Goalkeepers: Averill Park, Jackie
St. Pierre, 6 saves. Queensbury, Bridget Bell, 12 saves.
ALBANY ACADEMY 16, SCHUYLERVILLE 5
Schuylerville 1 4 — 5
Albany Academy 8 8 — 16
Schuylerville scoring: Carly Marcellus 1-0, Brianna Miller 1-0, Meg Young 2-1, Heather Marko 1-0. Albany Academy scoring: Emma Malicki 7-4, Emily Martin 2-3, Emma Hardy 7-1.
Goalkeepers: Schuylerville, Makayla Williams, 10 saves. Albany Academy, Olga Lucas, 3 saves.
EMMA WILLARD 12, GLENS FALLS 5
Emma Willard 6 6 — 12
Glens Falls 4 1 — 5
Emma Willard scoring: Francesca Gundrum 4-1, Natalie Kiley-Bergen 4-0, Xani Shultis 3-0, Cassie LaForest 1-0, Meaghan O’Hara 0-1, Tatum West 0-1. Glens Falls scoring: Emma Morrissey 2-0, Sarah Fraudesen 1-0, Laura Stamatel 1-0, Monica Harvey 1-0.
Goalkeepers: Emma Willard, Olivia Gundrum, 10 saves. Glens Falls, Jill Rizzo,