James Schnepf made a lot of saves in the rain Tuesday afternoon. Some were of the ordinary variety. Some looked like they hurt. Some were spectacular.
“I’ve known James for so long,” Erick Aldas said of his Schenectady lacrosse teammate. “It’s kind of expected of him.”
The junior goalkeeper with a growing reputation for big saves made his last one in the closing seconds to help the Patriots hold off Columbia, 12-11, in a non-league game at Larry Mulvaney Field.
“He’s one of the better goalies in the section. He showed it today,” said first-year Schenectady coach Matt Marotta. “Less than five seconds left, and he gets a piece. He squared his shoulders and made a save.”
Columbia had momentum when Schnepf came through with the last of his season-high 22 stops. It sealed the Patriots (4-2) third straight victory, and with it, they ended an 11-game losing streak against Suburban Council opponents.
Aldas had two goals and four assists, and four other Schenectady players notched two goals.
“I really wanted this win under my belt. We haven’t beaten a Suburban Council team since 2011,” said Schnepf. “I had moments where I saw it good, and other moments where I only saw a little bit of it. During those times, you’ve got to react and use everything you’ve got. Body, shoulder, head. Anything.
“A save is a save,” the 17-year-old added. “I was always taught that.”
Schnepf began making saves as a seventh-grader with Schenectady’s modified team. As an eighth-grader, he was starting for the high school’s junior varsity.
“You’ve got to be a little crazy to play goalie. When I had him in gym class in seventh grade, I could see he had that special quality,” said Marotta. “I asked him, ‘Why don’t you try lacrosse,’ and he fell into the position.”
In his infant years of playing organized lacrosse, Schnepf handled a lot of shots from his older brother Cody, and another former Patriot, Mike Czub.
“A owe a lot to my coaches, my brother Cody and Mike Czub,” said Schnepf. “They gave me the passion and the fire. I love the game.”
“He’s addicted to the sport,” said Aldas, a senior. “If it wasn’t for James, I wouldn’t be what I am. He’s always saying, ‘Let’s go shoot, let’s go shoot.’ ”
Schnepf saw a lot of shots Tuesday, and used more than his stick to deny Columbia (2-5). One his best saves came in the first quarter when he dropped down and legged a bouncer away, and the last shot he saw deflected off his stick and found his chest.
“You can’t have fear as a goalie,” he said. “If you do, it’s one of your biggest enemies on the field.”
Schnepf was selected a Big 10 second-team all-star following his first varsity season as a freshman, and last year he made the jump to first team.
“It makes coaching a lot easier with him back there,” said Marotta. “You can take risks. You know he’ll be there.”
Schnepf has made double-digit saves four times this season, including 19 when the Patriots beat Saugerties in overtime, 6-5. The 11th-grader does more than stop shots, though.
“He’s the quarterback of our defense,” said Marotta. “He’ll tell our guys where to go. He’ll see what the other team is doing on offense and relay that information. It’s just one of the things he’s getting better at. He’s always looking to improve his game.”
Felix Rodriguez had two goals and two assists for the Patriots, who matched last season’s win total. The 12 goals represented a season high.
Peter Herrick had three goals and an assist for Columbia.
Nicole Beardsley collected three goals and three assists, and eight other Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake players had multiple points in a 21-3 Suburban Council win over Averill Park.
Beardsley has produced seven points or more in five straight games.
Taylor Safford had three goals and three assists, and Mackenzie LeVan delivered three goals for the Spartans (5-1, 6-1).
SCHENECTADY 12, COLUMBIA 11
Columbia 0 2 5 4 — 11
Schenectady 5 4 1 2 — 12
Columbia scoring: Brendan Pursel 3-0, David Klee 2-0, Greg Gavitt 2-0, Pete Herrick 3-1, Luke Abbott 1-1. Schenectady scoring: Ethan Szemansco 1-0, Tyler Walsh 2-1, Erick Aldas 2-4, Alex Rodrigiez 2-1, Felix Rodriguez 2-2, Jon Suriano 1-0, Mike Moore 2-0.
Goalkeepers: Columbia, Tyler Heppelle, 12 saves. Schenectady, James Schnepf, 22 saves.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE 21,
AVERILL PARK 3
Averill Park 2 1 — 3
BH-BL 12 9 — 21
Averill Park scoring: Emily Halpin 0-2, Caitlin O’Shea 2-0, Megan Lettko 1-0. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Nicole Beardsley 4-3, Taylor Safford 3-3, Christina Krowel 1-1, Mackenzie LeVan 3-0, Aubrey Kamppila 2-1, Haley Schultz 2-3, Emily Ankabrandt 1-2, Nikki Pedone 1-0, Carly Grant 1-0, Olivia Green 2-1, Elise Zwicklbauer 1-1, Nakona Wolfe 0-1.
Goalkeepers: Averill Park, Kenze Minklin, 9 saves. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Lexie Ball, 5 saves.