Playing well has given Section II field hockey champions Guilderland and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake an opportunity to play against some of the best.
The Dutchmen and the Spartans have accepted invitations to the MAX Field Hockey High School National Invitational Sept. 25-27 at The Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.
The Dutchmen won their first Section II Class A championship last season while the Spartans earned their eighth consecutive Section II Class B title. On the final MAX Field Hockey Northeast Region top-20 rankings, the Dutchmen were listed at No. 15 and the Spartans were listed in the "others considered" group.
"If you were ranked in the top 20 at the end of the year you got an automatic invite. After that they looked at team records and strength of schedule," Guilderland coach Jen Sykes said. "We decided if we both got invited, we'd go together."
Burnt Hills received its invite after submitting an application to compete.
"It's going to be a great opportunity for our teams to bond," Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake coach Kelly Vrooman said. "We'll hop on the bus and head to The Proving Grounds to prove ourselves."
The Suburban Council teams do not know who or when they will play at this time as the tournament schedule is still being formulated. Teams from all six of the regions that MAX Field Hockey ranks will be on hand.
Shenendehowa represented Section II at last September's inaugural tournament and beat Langley of Virginia 1-0 in overtime and Blair Academy of New Jersey 5-3, and junior Rachel Sterle was selected to the all-tournament second team.
"We've always tried to find good competition for our non-league games, and we'll play two good teams," Vrooman said. "It will be a great experience for the girls."
"It's a great idea to bring teams from all different regions together," Sykes said. "The competition is going to be very high."
Vrooman likes the timing of the tournament, which will fall halfway through the Suburban Council schedule.
"In the second half you're getting ready for the playoffs," Vrooman said. "This tournament should give us a good idea of what we need to improve on and what changes need to be made. It's going to be good for us."
"We expect to be challenged and tested," Sykes said. "We'll come away knowing what we need to focus on in the second half."
The tournament also serves as a player showcase for college coaches.
"It will be great exposure for us and for Guilderland," Vrooman said.
Johnstown, which won the Section II Class C title as a stepping stone to the state title game, was listed on the "others considered" list in the MAX Field Hockey Northeast Region rankings. Johnstown has applied for a tournament spot but has yet to receive a response, according to coach Christine Krempa.