Niskayuna never had to work so hard for a regional championship in boys' lacrosse.
The Silver Warriors put together an epic rally Saturday and beat Mamaroneck 14-13 to earn a spot in the state semifinals for the ninth time in program history. None of their eight previous regional final wins were that close, with all of them decided by three goals or more.
That list includes a crazy 16-13 regional final (or state quarterfinal game) victory over Section I's Mamaroneck in 2015. The return engagement was even wackier, as Niskayuna roared back from a 10-4 deficit late in the third quarter to go up 11-10, fell behind 13-11, and then produced the final three goals.
Tyler Gregory started that late flurry with a goal and Drew Collins notched the next two. His tie-breaker after a faceoff win by Eoghan Sweeney and a pass from Gregory came with 2:02 left. A Mamaroneck shot hit the pipe soon after, and coach Mike Vorgang's Niskayuna group held on.
Niskayuna (19-1) and Ward Melville (Section XI, 19-1) will meet in a Class A state semifinal Wednesday at Adelphi University. The teams have never crossed paths in the state tournament that Niskayuna won in 2015. Ward Melville is a nine-time state champ, and knows a thing or two about comebacks, as well. Ward Melville beat Pittsford 10-9 for the Class A title in 2017 on an overtime goal by Matt Grillo with one second left. Ward Melville scored four goals in the final 61 seconds of regulation to tie it.
Here's some state tournament numbers to know about Niskayuna lacrosse. Niskayuna has represented Section II at both the Class A and Class B levels.
Niskayuna began its 16th state tournament with a 21-7 sub-regional win over Kingston before overhauling Mamaroneck and claiming its ninth regional championship. The Silver Warriors are 3-5 in state semifinal games, and 1-2 in the state title games.
Niskayuna reached the state tournament in its first varsity season in 1994, getting there by beating La Salle 6-5 in the Section II Class B final.
Yorktown has roughed up several Section II teams in state tourney play, including Niskayuna 21-1 in a quarterfinal when the Silver Warriors made their debut in 1994. Yorktown edged Niskayuna in double overtime 4-3 in a 1999 quarterfinal rematch. Niskayuna became Section II's first quarterfinal winner in 2000 with a 9-6 triumph over Yorktown.
Shaker holds claim to the first state tournament win by a Section II team, in 1984, when it beat Nyack 11-9 in the opening round. Shaker later lost to Yorktown 9-5 in a quarterfinal.
Niskayuna owns a 21-14 record in the state lacrosse tournament, and a 16-6 mark since 2009. Niskayuna went 4-0 when it became Section II's first state champion in 2015 with a Class A win over West Genesee. The 2005 and 2009 state runner-up teams both went 3-1.
Junior midfielder Griffin King scored a team-high six goals in the Mamaroneck win, boosting his goal total to 20 in Niskayuna's last three postseason games. King, a 2018 US Lacrosse All-American, scored nine goals in a 20-9 Section II title-game win over Shenendehowa, and delivered five against Kingston.
Niskayuna's four-game postseason win streak has boosted Vorgang's career total with the varsity to 413 going back to 1994. The multi hall of fame coach has had seven 20-win teams. His 2009 edition set a Section II record with 24 wins, his 2005 team won 22 times, and three other groups won 21 games (2008, 2013, 2015).
Oh, yeah, his first Niskayuna team, his 1993 junior varsity squad, went 13-1.
Three of Niskayuna's most significant wins came in the state semifinals, against West Islip in 2005 (11-6), against Sayville in 2009 (15-8) and against Syosset in 2015 (14-11). Three of Niskayuna's most difficult defeats came in the state semifinals, against Garden City in 2010 (5-4) and 2013 (10-9), and against Massapequa in 2014 (23-9).