By KEN SCHOTT
NISKAYUNA — Stacey Sylvetsky finally received the opportunity to start for the Union College women’s soccer team this season. Kara Mashuta is happy just to be part of the team.
The Niskayuna High School graduates are seniors now, enjoying their final season with the Dutchwomen this season.
The Dutchwomen have a 9-3-2 overall record and are 2-2-2 in the Liberty League.
After coming off of the bench for her first three seasons, midfielder Sylvetsky started Union’s first 12 games this year. She has a goal and two assists. The goal and one of the assists were in the Dutchwomen’s 2-0 victory over Wilkes University on Sept. 6, helping Union go 2-0 in the Union College Classic.
“I’ve loved it,” said Sylvetsky, a psychology major who was a Liberty League All-Academic Team honoree last year. “I never really expected to go to Union because it was so close. I’m really happy that I came here. I’ve made a lot of good friends doing it. It’s been a really good experience, and I’m really happy that I joined the team.”
She is happy that she has had the chance to be a regular this season.
“It’s something that I’ve been hoping for since freshman year,” she said.
Union coach Brian Speck said Sylvetsky has great ball skills.
“She was a significant player for [coach] Bryce Colby at Niskayuna,” he said. “She has been a great player for us here. A great team leader. She came in the fittest that she’s ever been.”
Mashuta didn’t start out at Union. She attended Boston University her freshman year before deciding to transfer.
“It’s a better fit for me, compared to BU, which doesn’t have the campus. It has 32,000 students,” said Mashuta, an economics major. “Union’s the opposite of that. It just seems like a friendlier school. You get to know almost everyone here. And I really enjoyed high school. [Union] is like a bigger high school.”
She wasn’t a goalie during her playing career at Niskayuna High School, but, rather, a field player. After her sophomore season at Union, she wanted to stay on the team, so she decided to switch positions and become a goalkeeper.
Mashuta has played in two career games in goal. Last year, she started a game against Rochester Institute of Technology and made five saves in a 1-0 loss. This season, she played the final 13:48 of a 3-0 victory over Bard.
“Kara stepped in and played a league game against RIT,” Speck said. “We did lose, 1-0, but Kara was inspirational that game. She played great. She made some big saves. For sure, that’s a big highlight of her career.”
Although she has been the third-string goalie for two seasons, Mashuta has no regrets on changing positions.
“In the past, we’ve only had one goalie on the team,” she said. “I used to play goalie, so I kind of converted. It’s a lot of fun. It’s just about being on the team.”
Speck admires the desire Mashuta displayed for wanting to remain with the team.
“Time on the field wasn’t anything significant,” he said. “She noticed that we were down in the net. She trained as a goalie when she was younger. She came to me one day and asked, ‘Can I play some goalie, too?’ Her addition as a goalie for us has been significant, knowing we have that backup if our No. 1 goalie went down.”