BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Tied after the third quarter of Friday’s Section II Class A boys’ lacrosse tournament semifinal, Shenendehowa head coach Jason Gifford told his Plainsmen to embrace the stress of the upcoming final period.
“This is playoff lacrosse,” Gifford said. “This is what it’s about. This is what’s fun to me.”
Later, the coach thought about that hard-nosed message and smiled.
“Maybe that’s a little twisted,” Gifford said.
His goalie, though, was right there with him. Moments after he capped a riveting 9-8 win for the Plainsmen against Guilderland with a save in the final seconds, Shenendehowa senior goalie Anthony Tebbano offered his take on Friday’s final dozen minutes of action.
“That’s the best,” Tebbano said.
Tebbano made 12 saves in the win, the last coming on a shot from Guilderland junior midfielder Trevor Long just before the end of regulation. Shenendehowa junior midfielder Jack Hyde pressured the shot, but Long’s offering was a solid one that Tebbano’s stick swallowed out of the air as he dropped to his knees.
“The team worked hard all season. They worked hard all game,” Tebbano said. “I knew I had to come up with a big stop for them. That was all for the team.”
“He was outstanding,” Gifford said of Tebbano, who made 27 saves in the Plainsmen’s area championship win last year. “We go as he goes.”
After topping Guilderland (No. 3, 11-7), Shenendehowa (No. 2, 13-4) will play top-seeded Shaker in next Wednesday’s championship game at Mohonasen. Shaker survived its semifinal with a 5-4 triple-overtime win against Bethlehem.
Shenendehowa led 6-3 at halftime, but Guilderland roared back after intermission, and Dutchmen senior midfielder Joseph Foley scored late in the third quarter to tie the game at 7. Tebbano made a couple saves on point-blank shots to end the third period, but Guilderland went ahead less than a minute into the fourth after a score from senior midfielder Brock Walden.
The Plainsmen answered with a spectacular goal from junior attackman Dean Cannon. After a shot from junior midfielder Matt Stucchi ricocheted high into the air off Guilderland senior goalie Sean Heller’s initial save, Cannon redirected the loose ball into the goal with one fluid motion.
“I just tried not to focus on the defenseman [near me] and I just tried to look at the ball the whole way, jump up and swat it down,” Cannon said. “I just didn’t wanna catch it. I just wanted to swat it in.”
A couple minutes later, a save from Tebbano led to the game-winning goal. Junior attackman Pat Nagy found Stucchi, who buried the shot with 6:28 to go.
“As a competitor,” Stucchi said, “you gotta love the pressure.”
Junior attackman Connor Quimby led Guilderland with three goals, while Heller made nine saves.
For Shenendehowa, Cannon and junior midfielder Pierce Holohan each had three goals and an assist. Stucchi had two goals.
The victory sends Shenendehowa back to the championship game, where it will look to defend its title. More pressure-packed moments await, but that’s fine with the Plainsmen.
“It’s right at our fingertips,” Tebbano said. “We just gotta grasp it.”
Guilderland 2 1 4 1 — 8
Shenendehowa 2 4 1 2 — 9
Guilderland scoring: Connor Quimby 3-0, Tucker Peceri 2-0, Trevor Long 1-0,