School lacrosse: Warriors hit open man, thrive (with photo gallery)
BURNT HILLS Draw a defender, dish the ball. Then do it again.
That approach has led to clean looks, a slew of goals and four straight victories for the Niskayuna lacrosse team.
“I’m definitely happy that the guys are buying into what we’re doing,” Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang said after Tuesday’s 20-8 Suburban Council win at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. “Last year, we weren’t moving the ball. We weren’t making the extra passes, and consequently, we weren’t getting good shots.”
The Silver Warriors cashed in on a bunch of open-look rockets in producing a season high for goals, six coming in the first quarter against Section II’s fastest-rising team, and eight coming in a put-away third period.
That third-quarter assault included four goals in a span of 58 seconds that made it 17-5. Earlier in the game, another Niskayuna spree resulted in goals 10, 24 and 37 seconds apart.
“We realize now that it’s not about one guy, and that’s really made a difference,” said senior midfielder Blake Pfohl, one of five Silver Warriors who notched three goals. “It’s all about unselfish play. We’ve got a great bunch of guys who can all do the work.”
“We’ve been talking to them a lot about sharing, and everybody doing a little bit,” said Vorgang.
Those bits have added up to 67 goals. Niskayuna put up 17 in a win over nationally ranked Jamesville-DeWitt Saturday and 15 in league triumphs before that against Ballston Spa and two-time defending Section II Class A champion Shenendehowa.
“They did a great job of moving the ball and finding the open man, and they shot quite well. That’s why the score reads 20-8,” said Burnt Hills coach Tom Schwan. “It’s a frustrating thing. I wish we had handled it better and defended it better.
“We weren’t doing a good job with our off-the-ball defenders. They got the ball to their off-the-ball shooters in spots where they got good shots.”
Attackmen Lucas Maloney and Matt Sexton scored three goals apiece, as did midfielders Justin Picardi and Aidan O’Brien. Tanner MacIvor had four of Niskayuna’s 16 assists, Pfohl and Sexton both had three helpers and Tyler Pantalone won 10 of the 11 faceoffs he took.
“We’ve got great team chemistry,” said Pfohl. “With this team, the focus had been on sharing the ball, and it’s been working for us. We’re really rolling right now. It’s good.”
“The guys are recognizing who the open man is. They’re recognizing when to move it and when to move it again, and they’re doing it quickly,” said Vorgang.
Niskayuna quickly built its lead to 6-1 with four unanswered goals over the final seven minutes of the opening period, the first two by Picardi, and the next two by Maloney and Pfohl.
Picardi’s first goal came during a man-up situation, as did Maloney’s. Sexton and Pfohl delivered man-up goals 37 apart in the second period to extend Nisakayuna’s advantage to 8-2, and O’Brien’s even-strength goal with a second left in the half made it 10-3.
“I think our man-up was great today. We had four goals in the first half, and we had a great opportunity to get another,” said Vorgang. “You’ve got to take advantage of specialty situations. That’s always a big thing.”
Burnt Hills (2-1, 3-1) hurt itself in the first half with its inability to move the ball out of its defensive end of the field.
“We had six failed clears in the first half. That was a big piece early,” said Schwan. “That’s six possessions we didn’t have the ball and they did. That led to them doubling their possessions.”
Nick Vincent began the third-quarter scoring for BH-BL before Niskayuna answered with runs of 3-0 and 5-0. MacIvor and Maloney sandwiched goals around two by O’Brien in just under a minute late in the third quarter to help Niskayuna go up by 12.
“It got away from us late in the second quarter and definitely in the third quarter,” said Schwan. “They were just firing.”
Trevor Hiss had three goals and two assists for BH-BL (2-1, 3-1), and Vincent had two goals and two assists.
“We will rebound from this. We will respond,” said Schwan. “We’re going to come back with a good practice and a good game [Thursday against Bethlehem].”
The defending Section II Class B champions opened their season with wins over South Glens Falls (16-1), Saratoga Springs (15-7) and Shaker (12-10) before running into last year’s Class A runner-up.
Niskayuna 6 4 8 2 — 20
BH-BL 1 2 2 3 — 8
Niskayuna scoring: Lucas Maloney 3-1, Matt Sexton 3-3, Blake Pfohl 3-3, Luke Goldstock 2-2, Justin Picardi 3-1, Tanner MacIvor 1-4, Aidan O’Brien 3-1, Reed Avveduti 2-0, Tyler Pantalone 0-1. BH-BL scoring: Trevor Hiss 3-2, Nick Vincent 2-2, Bill Chapman 0-2, Chris Buono 1-0, Austin Clark 1-0, Eric Dillon 1-1.
Goaltenders: Niskayuna, Evan Quinn, 6 saves; Troy Manchester, 1 save. BH-BL,
Lucas Carter, 9 saves; Ian Reed, 4 saves.