Niskayuna will be trying to get through a state lacrosse tournament semifinal for the third time, while Shenendehowa bids for a breakthrough today at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.
Niskayuna (21-0) and Garden City (Section VIII, 17-3) meet in a Class B game at 3:30. Shenendehowa (18-3) takes on Ward Melville (Section XI, 20-0) at 8 in a Class A contest.
Ward Melville is ranked No. 1 in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse national poll, one spot ahead of Niskayuna. Garden City, which won its fifth state championship last season, is No. 17 on the poll.
“We’re mentally prepared, and that’s the first battle,” said Niskayuna senior attackman Lucas Maloney. “The second battle is what takes place on the field. For us to have success, we have to have the ball, and when we have opportunities, we have to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Niskayuna didn’t have the ball enough last year in a 9-6 state semifinal loss to West Islip, or in a 5-4 setback against Garden City in 2010.
The Silver Warriors dominated all facets in a 15-8 state semifinal win against Sayville in 2009. They made Section II history in 2005 by becoming the area’s first semifinal winner, beating West Islip, 11-6. In 2000, the Warriors lost to Garden City, 17-8.
Niskayuna’s 2005 and 2009 teams lost in state title games to West Genesee and Canandaigua, respectively.
Niskayuna’s road back to the state final four has included a 20-4 win over Ballston Spa in the Section II final, and regional victories over Yorktown (13-11) and Cornwall (23-1), a game in which when Matt DiVietro scored six goals and Maloney collected five goals and an assist.
Garden City won its fourth straight overall Long Island title by beating Miller Place, 9-4, Saturday. Justin Guterding had three goals and an assist in Garden City’s 10th straight win.
Shenendehowa is 0-4 in state semifinals, losing to Northport in 2002 (15-3), Farmingdale in 2003 (18-7), West Islip in 2004 (12-5) and Farmingdale again in 2011 (14-10).
The Plainsmen will bring a seven-game winning streak into their fifth semi after beating Shaker, 18-10, for the Section II crown, and topping regional foes Mamaroneck, 13-8, and Minisink Valley, 15-9, behind Kyle Marr’s four goals and three assists, D.J. Edick’s four goals, and Joe Romano’s three goals and an assist.
“We’ve been trying to go one game at a time, and we’ve gotten this far for a reason,” said Shenendehowa senior defenseman Tyler Olney. “We have to believe we can play with these guys.”
Two of Shenendehowa’s losses came against Niskayuna, and its other setback was by one goal against Lakeland/Panas. Shenendehowa’s signature win came against Yorktown on an overtime goal by Brian Rogers.
Ward Melville beat Massapequa for the overall Long Island championship, 12-3, when Dan Bucaro had three goals and an assist, and Dan Nemirov made 12 saves. Ward Melville is a seven-time state champ.
Today’s other state semifinals are at St. John Fisher College in Rochester. Jamesville-DeWitt (Section III, 19-1) and Hamburg (Section VI, 17-2) are the Class B teams, and West Genesee (Section III, 14-5) and Penfield (Section V, 13-7) are the Class A teams. The state finals are Saturday at St. John Fisher.