Shenendehowa boys’ lacrosse stuns Niskayuna in final

Matt Stucci of Shenedehowa is stick checked by Ryan Sitterly of Niskayuna at Mohonasen High School Friday, May 27, 2016. (PETER R. BARBER/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER)Matt Stucci of Shenedehowa is stick checked by Ryan Sitterly of Niskayuna at Mohonasen High School Friday, May 27, 2016. (PETER R. BARBER/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER)

BY JIM SCHILTZ
Gazette Sportswriter

— Matt Stucchi already had a big game going, then it got so much better.

“Let’s get out of here with a win,” the sophomore midfielder said of his thoughts entering the fourth quarter of Friday night’s Section II Class A championship lacrosse game.

“We had to push through and pound it out.”

Stucchi served as the hammer, driving in three goals to start the final frame and another inside the last minute to carry Shenendehowa past reigning state champion Niskayuna 15-14 in a wild and stunning large-school final at Mohonasen High School.

Stucchi finished with seven goals, Owen Putman delivered five, and Anthony Tebbano made 27 saves to help the Plainsmen (15-4) end Niskayuna’s 81-game win streak against Section II foes and hopes for a repeat state championship.

“Everybody knows about the win streak they had and about the state title,” said the junior Tebbano. “We knew we could win.”

The victory wasn’t assured until Matt Cavanaugh recovered after losing a faceoff with eight seconds to play and knocked the ball away from Dylan Pantalone as he raced toward the Shenendehowa cage.

“It was really stressful, but I was confident in Matt Cavanaugh,” Tebbano said. “He knocked it [the ball] away and that was it.”

Pantalone had scored consecutive goals to get Niskayuna (16-3) within 14-13 with 1:16 left. Stucchi’s last tally made it 15-13 with 44.9 seconds to go.

Lucas Quinn answered for the Silver Warriors before that last faceoff.

“Anthony Tebbano was unreal,” Shenendehowa coach Jason Gifford said. “Matt Stucchi was unreal. We got some unreal role performances.”

Shenendehowa was the last Section II team to beat Niskayuna, 9-4 in the 2011 Class A final. Niskayuna’s win streak that followed included a pair Class A title-game victories over the Plainsmen, and an 18-10 win against them in late April.

“What we took away from that is we could hang with them,” Tebbano said.

“We lost to them by eight,” Stucchi said. “They had a 6-0 run. Take that way and we lose by two. We thought this was possible.”

Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang thought Tebbano’s effort was the key.

“I don’t know what his save total was, but that’s the story,” he said.

Mike Doxie scored the final two goals of the third quarter to pull Niskayuna even at 11. Stucchi delivered with 9:21 left in the fourth, with 6:14 to go and with 2:47 remaining on unassisted goals.

“He’s their best player,” Vorgang said of the Loyola commit. “To score seven goals in a sectional final is an unbelievable accomplishment.”

Niskayuna was denied its 15th Section II title.

“Regardless of it’s a lacrosse game, a job, schoolwork, when you don’t execute there are times you are not going to win,” said Vorgang, whose team came in ranked No. 4 in the state.

Shenendehowa and Lakeland/Panas (Section I, 17-2) meet Wednesday at 8 p.m. in a sub-regional game at Yorktown. The Rebels edged Mamaroneck 11-10 to reach the state tourney.

“Our kids knew they could find success,” Gifford said.

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.