SARATOGA SPRINGS -- With a freelance offense and a deep desire enhanced by defeat, the Saratoga Springs girls' lacrosse team believes it can get to a place it hasn't been in years.
That would be the top of Section II.
"The question for them is what legacy do you want to leave?" Blue Streaks head coach Elaine Anton Lotruglio said after Tuesday's regular season-ending 18-8 win over Shaker. "They have set goals for themselves. They want to get to states."
Saratoga was a fixture there in the early years of the Section II large-school tournament, which it won every year from 1992-98 to advance beyond area borders. Saratoga played in every Section II final from 1999-2004, as well, and lost to Bethlehem each time.
The Blue Streaks haven't gotten that far since.
"We have this thought that we don't want our season to end," junior tri-captain Sophia Burke said. "We all believe."
There's good reason to. The Blue Streaks completed an 11-1 lSuburban Council season Tuesday and improved to 14-2 overall. The Blue Streaks will bring a six-game win streak into the upcoming playoffs, a run that includes victories over Guilderland, Shenendehowa, Niskayuna and Queensbury, which were the last four teams standing in the 2017 Class A and Class B tournaments.
Saratoga is expected to be the No. 1 Class A seed when the sectional seeds are released Wednesday.
"We can't let that go to our heads," said junior Reilly Hogan, who had five goals and an assist in Tuesday's triumph. "Everyone wants the same thing. We have to fight for everything. There is no given."
Most of the time with Saratoga there are no planned plays, either, which makes for a rather unique offensive approach. With its freelance offense, eight different plays scored goals against Shaker, with Lindsey Frank and Katie Wendell delivering three apiece.
"We don't use plays. We work sets," said Anton Lotruglio, who was a successful attacker in her competitive days at Hofstra. "We give them the tools and they build stuff with it."
The girls like that freedom to create, the option go strong to the cage or dish to an open teammate, depending on what they see.
"You can do so many things off one set," Hogan set.
Anton Lotruglio said she trusts her players to make good decisions.
"It's because of Saratoga Youth Lacrosse and the club teams they play on," the coach said. "They play in the offseason. They've been playing together so long. They have the chemistry."
Ball possession has enabled the state's No. 12 team to do significant offensive damage. The Blue Streaks have generated double-digit goals in every game but one, a 14-7 loss to Bethlehem that was sandwiched around six-game win streaks.
"A big thing is our practice work," Burke said. "If we see something in a game that's not right, we pound away it out at our practices. The 50-50 balls are an example. We kind of struggled with that early in the season, and got better. It's helped us finish off the [regular] season well."
Last season didn't end well for Saratoga, which reached 13 wins by knocking off Colonie 18-6 in the sectional quarterfinals, but then lost to eventual champ Guilderland 18-8 in the semifinal round.
"Collectively we all wanted it," sophomore Sylvie Waters said. "We didn't want it enough. It came down to heart and they had more. Now we've got to have more."
Shaker 3-5 - 8
Saratoga Springs 14 4 - 18
Shaker scoring: Julien 4-0, Feinman 0-2, Wood 4-0. Saratoga Springs scoring: Hogan 5-1, Frank 3-2, Wendell 3-1, Silver 2-2, Sauer 2-0, Burke 1-2, Payer 1-0, O'Hara 1-0, Waters 0-1.
Goalies: Shaker, Caruso, 7 saves; Saratoga Springs, Searles, 3 saves.