BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — At least for one night, the Shenendehowa boys lacrosse team could say its season was not about rebuilding. Instead, last year’s Section II runner-up simply appeared to have reloaded in Thursday’s 15-7 victory against Suburban Council rival Ballston Spa.
Minus 16 players from their 2014 squad, the Plainsmen (1-0) never trailed in their 2015 opener after tying the score at 1 — and Shenendehowa maintained at least a two-goal lead for the final 35 minutes, 10 seconds against Ballston Spa. Junior Adam Barcori scored four times, senior Brian Nelsen and freshman Matt Stucchi each added three goals for the Plainsmen, and sophomore Anthony Tebbano made 11 saves in net.
“We felt like we came out strong, our goalie made saves, and we pushed it in transition,” said Barcori. “We did everything we had to do.”
Senior Rob Morrisey added two goals, while junior Mike Lazzaro, senior Peter Russo, and Jake Schilling each added one.
“I was really happy with the total team effort,” said Shenendehowa head coach Jason Gifford. “I was happy we generated offense via turnovers, via ground balls — hustle plays, the nuts and bolts of lacrosse.”
Hans Zimmer scored twice and added an assist to lead Ballston Spa in defeat.
Shenendehowa led 9-5 at halftime, but the Plainsmen created ample breathing room for themselves in the third period with a 4-1 stanza. Using a possession-based offense, Shenendehowa only allowed Ballston Spa three substantial offensive chances in the period and took control of the game.
“The kids settled in as the game went,” said Gifford. “There were definitely some nerves in the beginning. Kids getting their first opportunity on the [varsity] got comfortable and started to settle in.”
One of those rookies was Stucchi, who scored the go-ahead goal in the first period before scoring again in the second and fourth. The freshman said he had gone into the game not knowing if he would be much of a factor for the Plainsmen.
“I just wanted to go out and play as best as I could,” he said. “My teammates gave me a lot of opportunities.”
Gifford said he was not surprised to see Stucchi step right in for the Plainsmen after watching him during the offseason and preseason.
“He’s a kid that’s worked really hard to earn the respect of his teammates,” said Gifford. “It’s not always easy to come on a varsity team and earn the respect of your teammates, and he’s done that. He’s earned that respect through grinding every day.”
Winning was a welcome way to start for the Plainsmen as they begin the process of molding together this year’s roster. Bumps in the road are likely ahead for Shenendehowa, but a strong group effort created a smooth path in the team’s opener.
“Coach has been telling us that it’s all about everyone working together,” said Barcori. “I feel like that happened tonight.”
Scoring statistics for Shenendehowa from its 15-7 win against Ballston Spa. Listed are a player’s name, goals scored, and assists:
- Adam Barcori: 4, 1
- Brian Nelsen: 3, 1
- Matt Stucchi: 3, 0
- Rob Morrissey: 2, 0
- Jake Schilling: 1, 1
- Peter Russo: 1, 0
- Mike Lazzaro: 1, 0