NISKAYUNA — The Niskayuna boys' lacrosse team is unbeaten through 11 games and has scored a lot of goals in getting there, but whether it is to be considered among the program's best groups won't be determined until the postseason rolls around.
"The future is about consistency," said veteran Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang, whose 2018 edition was the program's ninth to reach the state final four. "Consistency in the cage, on offense, on defense and clearing the ball."
And consistency in the circle, where senior Jordan Van Buren and sophomore Cooper Wilson have taken over for All-American faceoff specialist Eoghan Sweeney. Vorgang and his staff aren't asking the new tandem to win all of the draws, but to certainly win their share and get that high-powered offense a chance to shine.
"We've had three straight All-American [faceoff] guys," said Chris DeLano, a Niskayuna assistant who works with the faceoff players. "They've got tough shoes to fill, but they're grinding."
They're getting better, too.
"It's not an effort issue with them," Vorgang said. "What these guys have to do that guys didn't in the past is use counter moves. They'll see something and remember it the next time. They are improving in that area."
Van Buren is well aware of the importance of the role he shares with Wilson. The two will go up against one of Section II best faceoff men in Shaker's Logan Souza Saturday.
"Possession is key," Van Buren said Thursday after he joined with Wilson for 23 faceoff wins in a 23-0 triumph over Colonie. "We want to keep getting better, keep working, keep fighting."
Vorgang said Van Buren, who starts, and Wilson have done quite well within Section II. In non-league wins over Greenwich, Conn. (14-8) and Lakeland/Panas (17-14), the results were mixed. The tandem went 14-11 against Greenwich, but were 7-27 against Lakeland/Panas.
"In some of our tougher games, we struggled early in the game and made adjustments," DeLano said.
Vorgang said Van Buren won four faceoffs in the fourth quarter, when Niskayuna notched one of its signature wins against Lakeland/Panas. Niskayuna followed up with three more quality victories against Greenwich, reigning Section II Class B champion Ballston Spa (19-11) and Bethlehem (15-8) during the spring break.
"Those wins definitely helped show us that we can play with big teams and we can fight back when we are losing," Van Buren said. "We came back against Lakeland and Greenwich."
"The games we had on the spring break helped us a lot," said Vorgang, whose Silver Warriors have climbed to No. 2 in the Class A New York State Sportswriters Association rankings behind Chaminade. "They were competitive. You need to be challenged."
DeLano said some of Niskayuna's unsung players performed extremely well in those big games, like longstick midfielder Noah Watso-Hanson and the shortstick defensive cast that includes Colby Carach, Jake Dominikoski, Tyler Ferguson and Leo O'Brien.
"One of our strengths is our defensive midfield unit," DeLano said.
Another strength is an offensive contingent that has Finn McCullough, Drew Collins and Brock Behrman starting at attack and All-American Griffin King, Gabe Nish and Dan Brownell starting at midfield. McCulough pumped in five goals Thursday when Niskayuna was building a 19-0 halftime lead.
"Getting out of the section is definitely a goal of ours, but we're taking it one game, one practice, at a time," Van Buren said.
Colonie 0 0 0 0 — 0
Niskayuna 14 5 1 3 — 23
Niskayuna scoring: Nish 2-0, King 1-3, McCullough 5-0, Brownell 2-0, Collins 1-1, O'Brien 1-0, Carach 2-1, Dominokowski 0-1, Guest 3-1, Bach 3-0, Famulare 0-2, Angelopolous 0-2, Kelly 2-0, Camarini 0-1, Michalisin 1-0.
Goalkeepers: Colonie, Loudis, 4 saves. Niskayuna, D'Alliard, 0 saves; Frankel, 1 save; Scardino, 2 saves.