Natalie Metzger called it a game that never should have gone that far.
“We were up 2-0 going into the second half, and they came back,” Metzger said of Niskayuna’s marathon field hockey win over Shaker earlier this month. “We had a tough game before that, and we got tired. We stayed with it this time. That was definitely good.”
Niskayuna beat Shaker for the second time Thursday 2-1 in a Suburban Council game that could have significant meaning when the Class A seedings for the Section II tournament are released.
The Silver Warriors cashed in on penalty corners early in each half, and Emma Skumurski stopped a late breakaway after Shaker made it close.
“Shaker and us is always a good match,” Metzger, a senior center midfielder, said. “It’s nice to get two wins against them.”
While Thursday’s win was a difficult one, Niskayuna’s 3-2 overtime victory at Shaker on Sept. 12 was even more so.
“Two overtimes. Two shootouts. We got a win, but it was close,” Metzger said. “It was a little crazy. We told ourselves, ‘It is not happening again.’ ”
Shaker certainly tried.
Kailey Dodd scored on a penalty corner with 13:58 left, tapping the ball in from the left post after it deflected off a defender’s stick, to make it 2-1.
Rachel Hayes had a great chance to pull Shaker even with 7:25 left after she broke free beyond Niskayuna defensive line, but Skumurski came out for a kick save.
Skumurski finished with five saves, and Emily Polsinello made three stops for the Blue Bison.
“Shaker is so feisty,” Niskayuna coach Alison Broomhead said. “They work hard all game. It’s always a challenge.”
Niskayuna and Shaker are in the hunt for the Suburban Council’s Class A No. 3 sectional seed. Niskayuna improved to 6-5 and Shaker dipped to 5-6 in the league, and the Silver Warriors now own the tie-breaker (head-to-head) should the teams finish even.
Unbeaten Shenendehowa and Saratoga Springs, with two losses, lead the league.
“I told them after our last game of the first half [that] my goal is to be the third seed at the end,” Broomhead said. “Monday we took a hit [when Shaker upset four-time defending Section II Class B champion Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake]. Today brings us back up a bit.”
Niskayuna (7-5 overall) has league games remaining with Shenendehowa, Burnt Hills and Guilderland, and a non-league game with Kingston. Shaker (6-6 overall) has league games to play with Saratoga, Columbia and Bethlehem along with a non-league test against Emma Willard.
“We’re really pushing for sectionals,” Metzger, a three-year varsity player, said.
Sam Erickson gave Niskayuna a 1-0 lead 5:02 into the game on a close-range goal, completing a penalty corner, and Sara O’Connor finished off another 4:05 into the second half. O’Connor also scored in close quarters with bodies all around.
“One of my objectives was to focus every day on penalty corners,” Broomhead said. “We don’t get a ton of them. When we get them we need to make the first hit count at the top of the circle.”
Improved play on penalty corners — both attacking and defending — is one reason Niskayuna has made a jump in the league standings this fall. Last season Niskayuna went 4-10 in the league and in 2014 it went 3-11. The Silver Warriors won league titles from 2011-13 with a combined 40-2 mark.
“Our speed is a little better,” Broomhead said. “Our ball movement is better. Our level of play has been more consistent. In other years we’d be great for five minutes and not so great for the next five minutes. It’s hard to win like that.”
Metzger said it’s a close-knit team that’s made such strides.
“Team chemistry is definitely good,” she said. “We all get along, and that helps with communication on the field.”
In the Foothills Council, Scotia-Glenville topped Hudson Falls 7-0.
Sage Plemenik scored two goals in the win, while each of Juliann Vadney, Caroline Rooney, Aleena Sammons, Grace Purvis, Juliana Geniti scored one apiece. Assists came from Purvis, Geniti, Liliana Forth, Cristiana Bianchi, Molly Malone and Jenna Stuart.
The shutout was the fifth of the season for goalie Naudia Smith.
Queensbury defeated Johnstown 3-1.
Stephanie Hand scored twice for Queensbury, which also received a goal from Jordan Bently.
Johnstown’s Isabella Caruso had a goal.
Emma Willard topped Germantown 3-2 in the Patroon Conference.
Catherine Lapham scored a pair of goals for Emma Willard, while Heidi Zahnleuter added a goal and an assist.
For Germantown, Sam Murrish and Lily Watson each scored.