Even a young team like Niskayuna, that is still looking for an identity, knows the importance of every win in Suburban Council boys’ soccer.
Tuesday’s 3-1 home victory over Shaker, fueled by two goals from senior Christian Koudal, gave the Silver Warriors a 3-0 start.
Koudal has been a spark up front for Niskayuna, which was hit hard by graduation after getting to the Class AA final last fall.
“Christian was up, he worked back, he worked hard,” said Niskayuna coach Joe Carosella. “Last year, we had 12 or 13 different guys get on the board, and a bunch of goals from the bench. So far, he’s been very effective.
“We’re still moving guys around. We’re still tinkering to get the formation that suits us best.”
“I thought we had a good team, with a lot of good players. This is a good start,” said Koudal. “But we have to rely on the whole team to work to the best of our abilities. That’s why it’s a team sport.”
Central defenders Nick Shanahan and Brennan Colby are two big reasons Niskayuna has outscored its three foes by a 9-2 margin.
“I wasn’t sure exactly how we’d do,” said Colby. “We graduated eight senior starters, so we had to fill a lot of positions. A lot of very talented younger players have stepped up.”
“We knew we lost a lot, but we had six sophomores who were coming back,” said Shanahan, one of seven seniors on the team, “They all play together outside of school, so I knew they would be good.
“They’re a little undersized, so we have to work around it by having good ball skills.”
Koudal gave Niskayuna a lead just inside the 3:00 mark, but Shaker’s Justin Brehm evened things 11:50 before the half. Koudal gave his team the lead for good 2:32 from the break, and Luke Faranda finished the scoring with 11:31 remaining in the game.
“After we scored our first goal, Shaker came down and camped out in our half of the field,” said Carosella. “We kind of gave them the space outside the penalty area. I told them we had to play higher, or it was going to be a self-defeating strategy.”
Shaker finished with a 10-5 edge in shots, but Niskayuna goalkeeper Riley McDonald was up to all but one.
“We had long periods of possession, but we also had a couple minutes of meltdowns which they capitalized on each time,” said second-year Shaker head coach Dan Fountain. “We gave them too many chances and they punished us.”
With Shaker pressing forward late in the game, Niskayuna was able to counter with long balls over the top. Faranda ran on to one, and after Tommy Macutek came out to stuff his initial shot, Faranda knocked the rebound into an open goal.
“We kept pushing each other to get that two-goal lead, even a three-goal lead,” Colby said.
Fountain, whose team fell to 2-1, is also figuring out who plays best where, and with which other teammates.
“We could easily be a .500 team, or we could easily be a team that’s in contention, depending on how some pieces shake out for us,” he said.
Carosella is looking for consistency, with a trip to Guilderland up next.
“You’ve got to rise to each challenge as it comes,” he said. “We don’t want to congratulate ourselves too much.”