BY JIM SCHILTZ
CLIFTON PARK — Niskayuna goalkeeper Max Ronesi didn’t play in last year’s Section II Class A title game against Shenendehowa, but the first-year starter has seen the film of that crushing defeat, and heard the veteran Silver Warriors tell their stories.
“They just weren’t happy with the outcome,” Ronesi, a junior, said. “They wanted to get it back. They wanted to come out with a win. We all did.”
That’s just what Niskayuna did in a sometimes sloppy but thoroughly entertaining Suburban Council rematch Thursday night, pulling away in the second half to forge a 10-7 victory at Steuerwald Stadium.
Lucas Quinn scored Niskayuna’s first five goals, Mike Doxie and Griffin King produced all four in a breakaway run, and Ronesi made 13 saves in his first go-round with the rival Plainsmen.
“We were all pretty pumped up for the game,” Doxie said.
Shenendehowa ended Niskayuna’s 81-game Section II win streak, and denied the Silver Warriors an opportunity to defend their state title from 2015, with that 15-14 win in last season’s area large-school final, in which Shen’s Matt Stucchi scored seven goals.
“I try not to think about it, but I think about it every day,” Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang said of the one-goal loss. “I just don’t say anything about it.”
Niskayuna (13-0, 13-2) never trailed in winning its seventh straight game, but could not put Shenendehowa (11-2, 11-4) away, either, until the second half, when Doxie and King connected late in the third quarter, and King and Doxie scored again early in the fourth to make it 9-5.
“Any time you play a well-coached team that plays hard and come out with a win, it’s a good win,” Vorgang said. “They were definitely motivated to play against a quality opponent.”
Stucchi scored one of his three goals to pull Shenendehowa into a tie at 5 in the third quarter before Doxie and King delivered. Doxie put the state’s No. 5 Class B team ahead for good with 2:41 left in the third frame, and King tallied with 41.6 seconds left in the quarter.
“They were sliding from the middle and the backside was wide open,” Doxie, a senior midfielder, said. “We talked at the half about needing a run to put them away and we put one together.”
Doxie’s goal with 9:36 left in the game stretched Niskayuna’s advantage to 9-5. King assisted on that goal, after scoring 55 seconds into the final frame.
“At the half we made an adjustment to change the field on one pass,” Vorgang said. “We had a couple of those.”
Tommy Sullivan’s behind-the-back goal got Shenendehowa within 9-6 with 8:38 left. Ronesi made two of his five fourth-quarter saves soon after on close-range bids with the Plainsmen a man up.
“Their goalie came up with some huge saves,” Shenendehowa coach Jason Gifford said. “We had our chances to get closer.”
Jon Pfohl scored into an empty net after a Shenendehowa turnover to give Niskayuna 10-6 lead with four minutes left. Stucci completed the scoring at the 2:25 mark.
Quinn’s fifth goal gave Niskayuna 5-2 lead in the second quarter before Dean Cannon and Stucchi answered before the break.
“In the second half we needed to come out and play harder,” said Ronesi, who was on the junior varsity las season. “We did that.”
Stucchi tied the game at 5 on an unassisted goal with 6:37 left in the third.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who have been with us for a while,” Gifford said. “They know a three-goal lead is nothing. All night it was, ‘Make the next play. Make the next play.’ ”
Niskayuna’s closest league games before Thursday came against Guilderland and Ballston Spa in eight- and nine-goal victories.
“I was happy with our effort,” Gifford said. “My guys played with a lot of energy.”
Shenendehowa goalie Anthony Tebbano made 17 saves. He was one of the stars in last year’s area final, with 27 stops.
“We shot well in the first quarter, fell off in the second quarter, and picked it up in the third,” Vorgang said. “We pulled it out.”
Niskayuna 3 2 2 3 – 10
Shenendehowa 1 3 1 2 – 7
Niskayuna scoring: Lucas Quinn 5-1, Mike Doxie 2-1, Jon Pfohl 1-0, Griffin King 2-2. Shenendehowa scoring: Tommy Sullivan 2-0, Eric Makhatadze 0-1, Pierc Holohan 0-2, Dean Cannon 2-0, Jack Hyde 0-1, Matt Stucchi 3-0.
Goalkeepers: Niskayuna, Max Ronesi, 13 saves. Shenendehowa, Anthony Tebbano, 17 saves.