Matt Stucchi already had a big game going, then it got so much better.
“Let’s get out of here with a win,” the sophomore midfielder said of his thoughts entering the fourth quarter of Friday night’s Section II Class A championship lacrosse game.
“We had to push through and pound it out.”
Stucchi served as the hammer, driving in three goals to start the final frame and another inside the last minute to carry Shenendehowa past reigning state champion Niskayuna 15-14 in a wild and stunning large-school final at Mohonasen High School.
Stucchi finished with seven goals, Owen Putman delivered five, and Anthony Tebbano made 27 saves to help the Plainsmen (15-4) end Niskayuna’s 81-game win streak against Section II foes and hopes for a repeat state championship.
“Everybody knows about the win streak they had and about the state title,” said the junior Tebbano. “We knew we could win.”
The victory wasn’t assured until Matt Cavanaugh recovered after losing a faceoff with eight seconds to play and knocked the ball away from Dylan Pantalone as he raced toward the Shenendehowa cage.
“It was really stressful, but I was confident in Matt Cavanaugh,” Tebbano said. “He knocked it [the ball] away and that was it.”
Pantalone had scored consecutive goals to get Niskayuna (16-3) within 14-13 with 1:16 left. Stucchi’s last tally made it 15-13 with 44.9 seconds to go.
Lucas Quinn answered for the Silver Warriors before that last faceoff.
“Anthony Tebbano was unreal,” Shenendehowa coach Jason Gifford said. “Matt Stucchi was unreal. We got some unreal role performances.”
Shenendehowa was the last Section II team to beat Niskayuna, 9-4 in the 2011 Class A final. Niskayuna’s win streak that followed included a pair Class A title-game victories over the Plainsmen, and an 18-10 win against them in late April.
“What we took away from that is we could hang with them,” Tebbano said.
“We lost to them by eight,” Stucchi said. “They had a 6-0 run. Take that way and we lose by two. We thought this was possible.”
Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang thought Tebbano’s effort was the key.
“I don’t know what his save total was, but that’s the story,” he said.
Mike Doxie scored the final two goals of the third quarter to pull Niskayuna even at 11. Stucchi delivered with 9:21 left in the fourth, with 6:14 to go and with 2:47 remaining on unassisted goals.
“He’s their best player,” Vorgang said of the Loyola commit. “To score seven goals in a sectional final is an unbelievable accomplishment.”
Niskayuna was denied its 15th Section II title.
“Regardless of it’s a lacrosse game, a job, schoolwork, when you don’t execute there are times you are not going to win,” said Vorgang, whose team came in ranked No. 4 in the state.
Shenendehowa and Lakeland/Panas (Section I, 17-2) meet Wednesday at 8 p.m. in a sub-regional game at Yorktown. The Rebels edged Mamaroneck 11-10 to reach the state tourney.
“Our kids knew they could find success,” Gifford said.
Doxie had five goals and an assist for Niskayuna.
Burnt hills holds on
The big lead was gone, but Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake didn’t crack.
“It shows a lot of heart,” Spartans coach Tom Schwan said of his team’s 17-9 Section II Class B title-game win over Ballston Spa. “It’s a three-goal game, and if they get another one or two, it goes down to the wire.”
The final never came to that, with the Spartans answering a huge comeback by the Scotties with their second offensive burst. The win resulted in the second championship for the 10-year-old varsity program.
“In this game things can happen in a heartbeat,” Burnt Hills senior Will Clark said after generating five goals. “You’ve got to be prepared for that and respond. Trust your teammates.”
Ballston Spa (12-7) rallied from a 10-1 deficit with a monster third-quarter push. Five straight goals, and two more after a goal by Clark, had the Scotties within 11-8 with three minutes left in the period.
“I just loved our guys’ composure,” Schwan said. “They [Ballston Spa] had a hop in their step. We were a little dazed. We were able to answer it.”
Pat Fennelly and Sam Swingruger each scored their second goals in Ballston Spa’s 7-1 spurt to make it 11-7 and then 11-8. Burnt Hills popped in the next six goals.
“We called a time out and we were able to bring it back together,” said BH-BL freshman Darien LaPietro, who scored two of his five goals in that late push. “Coach and the seniors talked mostly about slides. The defense was struggling.”
In the first half Burnt Hills’ defense was superb, blanking the Scotties after Swingruber’s goal with 7:33 left in the opening frame. The Spartans (15-4) followed up that goal with eight unanswered to close out the half, and a tally by Alec Lind gave BH-BL a 10-1 lead early in the third.
Burnt Hills will take on Yorktown (Section I, 13-6) in a sub-regional game Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
Adam Owens and Dennis Dauphin scored four goals apiece, and Greenwich (18-1) beat Glens Falls (14-5) 12-6 for its third straight Class C championship and fifth in school history.
Greenwich will go against Pleasantville (Section I, 17-3) in a Wednesday sub-regional at 5:30 p.m. at Yorktown. Pleasantville beat Bronxville 4-2 in double-overtime to reach the state tourney.
SHENENDEHOWA 15, NISKAYUNA 14
Shenendehowa 4 2 5 4 — 15
Niskayuna 1 7 3 3 — 14
Shenendehowa scoring: Piece Holohan 1-2, Mike Lazzaro 1-0, Owen Putman 5-0, Matt Stucchi 7-0, Tommy Sullivan 1-1. Niskayuna scoring: Evan Maloney 1-1, Mike Doxie 5-1, Lucas Quinn 2-2, Dylan Pantalone 3-2, James Sexton 3-2.
Goalkeepers: Anthony Tebbano, 27 saves. Niskayuna, Jack Lynch, 4 saves; Alex Izzo, 1 save.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE 17, BALLSTON SPA 9
Ballston Spa 1 0 7 1— 9
BH-BL 5 4 4 4 — 17
Ballston Spa scoring: Zac Schuette 2-0, Ethan Thomas 1-0, Sam Swingruber 3-1, Hans Zimmer 1-3, Pat Fennelly 2-1. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Darien LaPietro 5-2, Will Clark 5-0, Ben Clark 0-1, Jake Stanko 0-1, Alec Lind 3-0, Mike Leveroni 2-0, Josh Fortin 2-0.
Goalkeepers: Ballston Spa, Damian Randall, 5 saves. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Dan Biesty, 19 saves.
GREENWICH 12, GLENS FALLS 6
Glens Falls 2 1 0 3 — 6
Greenwich 3 1 5 3—12
Glens Falls scoring: Andrew Bulmer 2-0, Hogan Fox 1-1, Liam Forbes 2-1, Henry Vanderminden 1-0. Greenwich scoring: Dennis Dauphin 4-2, Adam Owens 4-1, Hayden Stalter 1-1, Jack Pemrick 3-2, Connor Lawlor 0-1.
Goalkeepers: Glens Falls, Isaiah Prunty, 10 saves. Greenwich, Gage Boddery, 12 saves.