BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — A couple days before Shenendehowa field hockey headed to Cicero-North Syracuse High School to play in the Nov. 8 state quarterfinals, Plainsmen star senior Emily Fraser said her team’s opponent — Fayetteville-Manlius — had its full attention.
Winning a Section II Class A title was awesome, Fraser said, but not the final goal for Shenendehowa.
“Now,” she said, “the focus is on the next step.”
That was the attitude Shenendehowa head coach Jeanne Frevola expected from Fraser, who played a key role on the Plainsmen’s 2013 team that won a state championship.
“She’s seen what can happen when teams peak at the right time, and what needs to be done to get to this level,” said Frevola, who said her 2015 team only includes one other player — goalie Meredith Koziol — who saw any playing time in the 2013 postseason.
This year’s group, though, is about to see its level of postseason experience grow in a significant way. The Plainsmen advanced to the Nov. 14 state semifinals with a 2-0 win against Fayetteville-Manlius, as both Fraser and junior Taryn Marra each scored and assisted in a victory that set up a 3:30 p.m. matchup with Ward Melville at Maine-Endwell High School in Endwell.
That Fraser was one of the stars for the Plainsmen (18-1) in the state quarterfinals was no surprise, as the University at Albany-bound player has now scored 17 goals and registered 10 assists for a team she has led all season.
Frevola said she challenged Fraser — who, besides playing with the elite ADK Field Hockey club, is a member of the national team program — this season to get her teammates more involved in the Plainsmen’s offense.
“I expect a lot more of Emily because of her abilities,” Frevola said.
As the season has progressed, Fraser has felt more comfortable in her dual role as scorer and playmaker.
“I had to adjust to a difference pace and that was hard at first, but I think I’ve been doing a lot better with seeing the field, finding my teammates, and playing better with them,” Fraser said.
Still, senior teammate Kelly Barkevich said, the rest of the Plainsmen don’t mind when their most-talented player takes it upon herself to create scoring opportunities on her own with her stick skills.
“It’s nice knowing that if we’re in a jam, she can use her skills to get out if it,” Barkevich said. “When she does that, it opens up a whole new level for our play.”
The winner of the Shenendehowa-Ward Melville semifinal will advance to the Nov. 15, 12:30 p.m., state championship game against either Mamaroneck and Williamsville North. The title game will also be played at Maine-Endwell.