This time, Niskayuna didn’t need one of those third-quarter flurries that have been so prevalent this season.
The Silver Warriors beat All-America goalkeeper Michael Zingaro 10 times in the first half and held off Lakeland/Panas, 14-11, in a Class A regional lacrosse championship game Saturday at the University at Albany.
That big first half featured an early three-goal run and four-goal spurt later on that gave Niskayuna a 9-4 lead.
“Ten goals on an All-American goalie. That was a good first half,” said Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang. “We got to him in the first half. The second half, he was better. He showed why he’s one of the best in the state.”
Zingaro made 18 saves when Lakeland/Panas (Section I, 16-6) edged Warwick Valley Wednesday in a regional semifinal, 6-5. Zingaro, who is headed to Manhattah College, made 12 saves Saturday.
“We wanted him to move first. We didn’t want him to sit there waiting for it,” said Silver Warriors’ senior midfielder Ryan Lawson, who equaled his season high with four goals. “We had to play Niskayuna-style lacrosse and make him move.”
Niskayuna (19-1) worked the ball for extended stretches in the first half in search of shooting lanes.
“Control the ball and don’t make silly mistakes,” said Niskayuna senior attackman Sam Kaplan. “We tried our best to possess the ball. The best defense is a good offense.”
Niskayuna was real good in a four-minute, second-quarter chunk when Aidan O’Brien, Lawson, Kaplan and Mike D’Amario connected to give the state sportswriters’ No. 1-ranked team its 9-4 advantage. D’Amario set up Kaplan before notching his goal on a man-up.
“In the second quarter, we switched what we were doing. They didn’t adjust because they didn’t have any timeouts,” said Vorgang. “We were trying to get guys to the middle of the field. We gave them a different look, and the kids executed in the second quarter.”
Kaplan generated all three of his goals and added an assist in the first half, which Niskayuna used as a springboard toward its 15th consecutive win and seventh state final four berth.
“In the preseason, we scrimmaged them and he [Zingaro] had a good game,” said Kaplan. “I did my best to fake him out. I shot low on all three goals.”
Kaplan gave Niskayuna a 10-6 lead with 46 seconds left in the first half, and Kevin Prunty delivered for the Rebels with 22 seconds to go. Lawson and John Prendergast scored third-quarter goals as Niskayuna went up by five again, at 12-7.
“I like the way we competed,” said Vorgang. “When they made their runs, we answered back.”
Seniors led the Niskayuna offense, with D’Amario, a 12th-grade attackman, totaling three goals and two assists. The two-time All-American connected with 8:12 left to make it 13-9 after Jimmy Flaherty had scored twice for the Rebels.
D’Amario also scored the middle goal in a 3-0 first-quarter run that gave Niskayuna the lead for good.
“What we talk about throughout the year is our season is for the seniors,” said Vorgang. “For them to step up in a big game, that’s the way it should be.”
Niskayuna’s 14 goals were the most allowed by Lakeland/Panas this season. O’Brien had two goals and an assist. Prendergast, the star performer in a 14-7 Section II title-game win over Shenendehowa, also picked up two goals.
“This will give us good momentum going into the next game,” said Kaplan. “Actually, we have two good wins going into the semifinals.”
Niskayuna will take on Massapequa (Section VIII, 17-2) Wednesday at 3:30 in a state semifinal game at Hofstra University. Massapequa beat Smithtown East (Section XI, 16-4) Saturday, 13-12.
“It’s a situation where 48 minutes goes by pretty quick. We’ve got to maximize our possessions. Limit errors in all aspects of the game,” said Vorgang. “Everybody is real good now.”
Niskayuna is 2-4 in state semifinal games, including a 10-9 Class B loss to Garden City last season.
Lakeland/Panas 3 4 1 3 — 11
Niskayuna 5 5 2 2 — 14
Lakelane/Panas scoring: Sean Garvey 1-0, Sean Murphy 2-1, Brian Prunty 4-1, Jimmy Flaherty 3-0, Kevin Prunty 1-0. Niskayuna scoring: Ryan Lawson 4-0, Aidan O’Brien 2-1, John Prendergast 2-0, Mike D’Amario 3-2, Sam Assini 0-1, Lu Quinn 0-2, Sam Kaplan 3-1.
Goalkeepers: Lakeland/Panas, Michael Zingaro, 12 saves. Niskayuna, Nick Testa, 5 saves.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 395-3143 or firstname.lastname@example.org.