When pushed this season, the Niskayuna girls’ lacrosse team has pushed back.
Every single time.
“That’s what we talk about. A positive response,” Silver Warriors coach Jason Bach said after Saturday’s 13-4 win over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. “These girls have a lot of pride. When someone scores, they take it personally.”
Niskayuna’s answer Saturday came in the form of a seven-goal run after the Spartans worked their way back into the Suburban Council North Division game on consecutive goals by Casey Muller and Julia LeVan late in the opening half.
Marisa DiVietro started the spurt just 14 seconds after LeVan’s goal, and Cat Sexton highlighted it with three quick goals to begin the second frame.
“People get angry. People get pumped up,” said Sexton, a senior attacker who led Niskayuna with five goals and an assist. “We have a lot of heart.”
They do, and a lot of lacrosse skill to go with it, which helped the Silver Warriors (8-0, 9-0) knock off Burnt Hills and a list of other quality opponents before including Shenendehowa and Guilderland, which reached the last eight Section II Class A title games.
“Niskayuna has a great core group. They should be complimented on that,” said Burnt Hills coach Jake McHerron. “They did the right things.”
Six Silver Warriors scored and seven had points, and at the other end, Maya Manchester made seven saves. In between, Bri Sacks and DiVietro were solid on the draws, and their transition game, led by speedy Becca Curro and DiVietro, was excellent.
“Team game,” said Bach, whose Silver Warriors are ranked No. 14 (Class B) in the state by LaxPower. “Everybody contributed. We’ve had a lot of team games.”
“Everyone plays well together,” said Sexton. “We hang out together and give each other high-fives in the hallway. We’re like a family. Our chemistry is great, and we take that to the field.”
Niskayuna took it to Burnt Hills (4-4, 6-4) with those seven unanswered goals, and nine of the game’s last 10, after LeVan delivered with 3:05 left in the first half to make it 4-3.
Niskayuna had lost to Burnt Hills in the last meeting between the teams, 9-8, in last season’s triple-overtime Section II Class B final.
“It was heart-wrenching. It was awful. We talked about it all week,” said Sexton. “This was the first time we saw each other since then. They had something to prove, and so did we.”
“In the big, big picture, it doesn’t win us a championship,” said Bach. “As far as keeping momentum and doing the things we needed to do, it was a big game for us.”
Abbey O’Brien gave Niskayuna a 6-3 lead with 50 seconds left in the first half, and Sexton notched three goals before the second half was five minutes old, her third coming on a well-placed backhand bouncer, before Sacks and DiVietro made it 11-3 with 13:18 left.
“It came down to little things. You can’t throw the ball away. You’ve got to get ground balls. You’ve got to be smart with the ball,” said McHerron. “It’s about possession. They had it more.”
Sexton scored the game’s final goal when the New Hampshire-bound standout lept high for a DiVietro pass, and in one motion caught the ball and fired it past Lexie Ball.
“She is very skilled,” said McHerron. “She finishes. She passes. She’s the catalyst of their team.”
Ball made several great saves, including three on free position bids and another on a one-on-one breakaway.
“We’re not stressing. It’s one game,” said McHerron, whose team lost two league games to Niskayuna last season before its title-game victory. “We’ll try to keep moving forward and progressing. If you get better every day, you usually end up in a pretty good spot.”
BH-BL 3 1 — 4
Niskayuna 6 7 — 13
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Haley Schultz 1-0, Casey Muller 1-0, Sierra Bach 0-1, Julia LeVan 1-0, Elise Zwicklbauer 1-0. Niskayuna scoring: Cat Sexton 5-1, Bri Sacks 2-0, Ellie Petraccione 1-0, Marisa DiVietro 3-1, Abbey O’Brien 1-0, Isabel Curro 0-2, Alissa Franze 1-1.
Goalkeepers: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Lexie Ball, 8 saves. Niskayuna, Maya Manchester, 7 saves.