No Luke Goldstock. No Lucas Maloney or Evan Quinn.
The Niskayuna lacrosse team may have lost a load of talent, but it still has some potent sticks, and the Silver Warriors showed that Monday night in an 18-3 season-opening win over Saratoga Springs at Union College’s Frank Bailey Field.
“I think it says something about our versatility and our depth, how we’re able to have players come off the bench and play,” said Niskayuna senior attackman Mike D’Amario.
Niskayuna has only a handful of players who started on last year’s 21-1 state semifinal team, led by D’Amario and the offensive midfield trio of Ryan Lawson, John Prendergast and Aidan O’Brien. There’s also defenseman Jon Tiberio and Reed Avveduti, who played defensive midfield a year ago and has been moved to the starting attack unit.
“Everybody has played since they were kids,” said Avveduti, a Sacred Heart-bound senior. “Whatever position we’re put in, we take it and try to make the best of it.”
Avveduti was the best goal scorer against the Blue Streaks with four, while D’Amario, an All-America selection in 2013, notched three goals and three assists. New starting goalie Nick Testa made six saves and gave up a pair of goals in three quarters, and freshman Lu Quinn won 14 faceoffs.
“We’ve got a lot of new starters, but we have the experience of being on the varsity. Just about all of these guys have seen time,” said Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang. “What they need is to play games. Get used to their roles and get used to playing lacrosse as a unit.
“We’re looking to move forward at a consistent pace.”
Past Niskayuna teams did just that, building momentum for big runs late in the season. Eight of the last nine advanced to the state tournament.
“Obviously, we want to end up with a win in June, but our goal at this point is to keep getting better,” said D’Amario. “Get better in class, better with each other and in the community. Get better as players.”
D’Amario believes Niskayuna’s lead offensive cast that includes new starting attacker Sam Kaplan could develop into something special.
“Last year, playing attack with Luke and Lucas, we had the whole team on our shoulders, and the midfielders played a support role,” said the Virginia-bound D’Amario, who combined with Goldstock and Maloney for 221 goals. “We’ve got six guys, and if we play unselfish and share the ball, keep making that extra pass, we can be very successful.”
O’Brien topped Niskayuna with four assists Monday and added two goals. Kaplan had two goals and two assists, Lawson pumped in two goals, and Prendergast delivered another.
“It will definitely be more of a mixture,” Vorgang said of his offense. “That will make us more dangerous.”
Niskayuna scored four unanswered goals in the first quarter and led, 7-0, in the second after a goal by O’Brien. A goal by Avveduti with 4.6 seconds left in the opening half made it 11-2.
“Reed could have been one of our top offensive middies last year, but as a staff, we decided we needed him at defensive midfield. It was a move to make us better, and not once did he complain,” said Vorgang. “He’s the kind of guy who gives us toughness, and now he’s doing it as an attackman. Not only can he score, he’s a ground-ball guy, and he rides hard.”
“What ever they need me to do to help the team, I’ll do,” said Avveduti. “As a sophomore, I played offensive midfield. Last year, I played defense. It’s fun to put points on the board again.”
Saratoga Springs 0 2 0 1 — 3
Niskayuna 4 7 5 2 — 18
Saratoga Springs scoring: Trevor Honis 2-0, Bobby Frank 0-2, Justin Ross 1-0, Jack Hardy 0-1. Niskayuna scoring: Mike D’Amario 3-3, Aidan O’Brien 2-4, Sam Kaplan 2-2, Ryan Lawson 2-0, Reed Avveduti 4-0, John Prendergast 1-0, Jon Tiberio 0-1, Sam Assini 0-2, Lu Quinn 1-1, Tom Horan 1-2, Blake Alois 1-0, James Sexton 1-0, Tom Horan 1-2.
Goalkeepers: Saratoga Springs, Austin Degener, 16 saves; Kurt Weigand, 3 saves. Niskayuna, Nick Testa, 6 saves; Jack Lynch, 1 save.