BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Against Colonie, it was Owen Putman’s turn to be the star for the Shenendehowa boys lacrosse team.
Putman, a junior, scored five goals in the Plainsmen’s 12-4 victory Thursday, as Shenendehowa rolled in Suburban Council action. The team-minded Plainsmen have had nine different players record multi-goal efforts at least once this season, and junior Dakota Rainville said that is no accident.
“Whoever’s got the hot hand, we want to get him the ball and let him go to work,” said Rainville, whose senior teammate Liam Cannon had two goals against Colonie to join Putman as a multi-goal scorer.
“At any point, one of our guys can catch fire and light it up,” senior Peter Beidl said.
Through Thursday’s action, four Shenendehowa players have already scored in double figures: Cannon (14), Putman (14), freshman Matt Stucchi (13), and Rainville (11). That balance has worked well through the first seven games for the Plainsmen (5-0, 6-1), who are ranked No. 16 in the state.
“If you look at our stat column, we’ve really spread it around,” said Shenendehowa head coach Jason Gifford. “That’s what we wanted out of this group.”
Against Colonie, though, it was Putman’s night to shine. Putman scored 43 seconds into the contest and did not let up in the first half, scoring Shenendehowa’s first three goals and four of his five in the first two quarters. Putman also scored Shenendehowa’s final goal of the night, which came late in the third quarter.
“But it’s all about the team,” said Putman. “I couldn’t score any of these goals without my teammates.”
A year ago, Putman’s role was to almost entirely rely on his teammates. Playing attack alongside then-senior stars Pat Coll and Kyle Marr, Putman knew his place.
“I’d just catch the ball and shoot,” he said. “That was my job.”
Now, Putman is one of the go-to players for Shenendehowa.
“This year,” said Gifford, “[Putman] is a known guy. Coaches are scouting him. He’s getting the better defenders on him.”
Putman is being asked to be more of a creator for the Shenendehowa offense, too, and he has taken a liking to that role. Often stationed behind the opposition’s goal, Putman has a unique vantage point from which to attack.
“From there, I’m just looking to move the ball and go past my guy,” he said. “I’m looking to feed the ball to my teammates.”
Against Colonie, though, Putman did the lion’s share of the scoring for the well-rounded Plainsmen, who led 9-2 at halftime. Besides Cannon’s and Putman’s scoring, Shenendehowa also had five players — senior Brian Nelsen, Rainville, senior Peter Russo, Stucchi, and sophomore Zack Thomas — each score one goal. Nelsen added five assists.
Meanwhile, the club’s Beidl-led defense was stellar, allowing only one goal to Colonie in each quarter. Sophomore goalie Anthony Tebbano, a first-year starter, made several tough saves when needed.
“Can’t ask for anything more out of a sophomore,” said Gifford. “He’s doing a great job.”
Life gets easier, though, for the Shenendehowa defense when the club’s offense is putting the ball in the back of the opposition’s net. As both a focal point of the Plainsmen offense and a player in an increased role from a year ago, Putman’s play has been a key reason for Shenendehowa’s fast start to the 2015 season.
“He’s doing an outstanding job,” said Gifford. “He’s working to be successful in that role and, in doing that, he’s growing as a player.”