BURNT HILLS — Kelly Vrooman had a lengthy meeting with her Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake field hockey team after its loss to Guilderland Tuesday, and while the Spartans coach wouldn't divulge all that was said, something obviously hit home ahead of Wednesday's matchup with Shenendehowa.
"We were all a little bit off," Burnt Hills junior Lianna Sullivan said of the Spartans' 3-1 setback against Guilderland, which came a day before Wednesday's 1-0 win against Shendendehowa. "This game showed who we are. We put heart behind our game."
Against the Plainsmen, Sullivan scored early in the second half, and Burnt Hills turned in a smart and stingy defensive effort in beating its Suburban Council rival.
"I think they really just wanted it," Vrooman said.
The veteran coach said that want wasn't all there Tuesday when the seven-time defending Section II Class B champions gave up a pair of second-half goals as Guilderland pulled away from a 1-1 tie and put a serious dent in Burnt Hills' league title hopes.
"I think Guilderland had a big hand in this," Vrooman said of Burnt Hills winning the first of its two meetings with the Plainsmen. "We had a long talk [afterward]. We had to redefine what we're after."
Burnt Hills (7-3, 9-3) got after it good, particularly at its defensive end, in dealing Shenendehowa (8-2, 10-2) its second loss in three games. Shenendehowa lost to Guilderland a week ago before beating Saratoga Springs in a shootout on Friday.
Shenendehowa lost standout scorer and playmaker Rachel Sterle to a season-ending knee injury in the Guilderland game.
"We've kind of hit a wall," Shenendehowa coach Jeanne Frevola said. "We're going through a little bit of a funk. We need to get back to playing as a team. We'll try to get reorganized."
Shenendehowa is a team that thrives on penalty corners, yet managed only six of them Wednesday night as Burnt Hills stayed steady with its defense in the circle.
"We were really focused on playing good defense," Vrooman said. "We had to."
The Plainsmen strung three of those penalty corners late in the second half, with Spartans goalie Senja Matson making a save to thwart one scoring bid before the next two ended on drives wide of the cage.
"Our defense is strong," Sullivan said. "We wouldn't be where we are without them."
Frevola said she has been trying to find the right combination of players to make the penalty corners a more productive part of Shenendehowa's offensive game.
"I have tried almost everybody in those spots outside of the defensive players," Frevola said. "We have not been able to connect."
Isabel Adams played a key role for Burnt Hills in her flyer position on penalty corners, and the junior also set up Sullivan's goal with a quick right-to-left feed.
The goal 1:38 into the second half was Sullivan's first this fall, coming on a solid rip to the center of the cage as Shenendehowa goalie Abby Danson scrambled to get back into position.
"She [Adams] is very accurate with her passes," Sullivan said. "It was the perfect speed."
Danson finished with four saves, and Matson had five.
Shenenedehowa came into the game ranked No. 8 in the Northeast Region by MAX Field Hockey.