Warriors play a possession game
NISKAYUNA You’ve got to score goals to have success in lacrosse, and you’ve got to have possession of the ball to do that.
“Winning faceoffs gives you more opportunities to run your offense and more opportunities to generate shots,” Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang said after Tuesday’s 19-5 Suburban Council win over Guilderland. “You can still win without winning faceoffs, but it makes it a lot easier.”
Brothers Tyler and Dylan Pantalone combined to win 17 faceoffs, and Aidan O’Brien scored four goals in another big day for the Silver Warriors’ offense. Unbeaten Niskayuna led after the first quarter, 7-1, and at the half, 14-1.
“When the other team doesn’t have the ball, they can’t score,” said O’Brien, a sophomore midfielder who did all of his offensive damage in the first half. “When we have the ball, we have so many weapons, and the majority of the time, we’re going to score.”
The Pantalones had plenty of support in springing the offense, with O’Brien, Ryan Lawson, Reed Avveduti, Cameron Pierce and Brandon Melius flying in from the wings.
“We were rolling on all cylinders. Our wings played great. Our short sticks were great when we had them in there,” said Tyler Pantalone, who has taken over the No. 1 faceoff position for graduated All-American Tanner MacIvor. “If we have possession of the ball, our offense is going to score a lot of goals. They’ve been doing that a lot lately. We’ve just got to get them the ball.”
Guilderland came up empty on the game’s first offensive thrust, and by the time the Dutchmen got the ball in that end of the field again, they trailed, 4-0.
O’Brien scored Niskayuna’s first two goals, both assisted by Lawson, before Luke Goldstock and Lawson connected.
“That’s possession,” Vorgang said of the four-goal run. “That’s faceoffs.”
The Pantalones knew they would be called on to fill the faceoff role this season. Dylan Pantalone turned a faceoff win into his first varsity goal when the freshman scooped the ball, raced into the Guilderland zone and fired a low drive past Jesse Futia to make it 6-1 late in the opening period.
“We have turf in our garage,” said Tyler Pantalone, a senior who has committed to Siena College. “Me and my brother worked out all winter getting ready for this season.”
“They’re doing a good job for us. Our wings have been doing a good job, too,” Vorgang said. “We’ve won over 70 percent of our faceoffs.”
Niskayuna played without starting wing John Prendergast, who is nursing a knee injury.
“All of our guys were ready to go in,” said Tyler Pantalone. “We practice our faceoffs and going into 6-on-6 play a lot. Everyone stepped up and contributed.”
Niskayuna (4-0, 5-0) owned the faceoff circle Saturday in the third quarter of its 14-9 non-league win over nine-time Connecticut state champion Darien.
“In the third quarter, we won six faceoffs, and that was huge,” said Vorgang. “They had the ball for two minutes. We went from a 6-6 tie to leading, 12-6.”
“When we score like that, it usually starts with a faceoff or a big stop on defense. Everybody gets pumped up,” said O’Brien. “When we have the ball, we can do some pretty good things with it.”
Niskayuna took command Tuesday when it produced four of its seven second-quarter goals in 56 seconds to go up, 12-1. Lucas Maloney tallied twice in a span of 19 seconds, O’Brien connected 14 seconds later and Mike D’Amario notched a goal 23 seconds after that for the state’s No. 3-ranked Class B team.
Maloney totaled three goals and two assists, D’Amario and Matt DeVietro both scored three goals, and Goldstock finished with two goals and two assists.
Tyler Pantalone and Melius both scooped up four ground balls and Dylan Pantalone scooped up three to go with his goal and two assists. Niskayuna (4-0, 5-0) finished with 30 ground balls, 18 coming in the first half.
“When you talk about lacrosse, I believe ground balls, faceoffs and goalie play are the meat and potatoes of the game,” said Vorgang.
Niskayuna netminder Evan Quinn made eight saves in the first half and played shutout lacrosse over the final 16:01 of it after a goal by Stephen Polsinelli.
“Evan bounced back. He was really on the ball, and that’s what you expect of a three-year guy,” said Vorgang. “That was his best game of the year. You could tell he was mentally into it.”
Cody Dyer scored two goals, and Jake Smith had a goal and two assists for Guilderland (2-2, 2-3).
Guilderland 1 0 3 1 — 5
Niskayuna 7 7 2 3 — 19
Guilderland scoring: Stephen Polsinelli 1-0, Cody Dyer 2-0, Jake Smith 1-2, Alex Cardinal 0-1, Ryan Fish 1-0, Brad Johnston 0-1. Niskayuna scoring: Aidan O’Brien 4-0, Ryan Lawson 1-3, Luke Goldstock 2-2, Lucas Maloney 3-2, Dylan Pantalone 1-2, Mike D’Amario 3-0, Matt DiVietro 3-0, Evan Maloney 1-0, Sam Assini 0-1, Tom Horan 1-0, Adam Byrne 0-1.
Goalkeepers: Guilderland, Jesse Futia, 7 saves; Ryan Rafferty, 3 saves. Niskayuna, Evan Quinn, 8 saves; Nick Testa, 1 save; James O’Rourke, 1 save.