Girls Lacrosse: Niskayuna looking for different ending in 2015

Dana Melby, left, defends Cat Sexton during a March 18 practice for the Niskayuna girls lacrosse team at Hillside Elementary School. Defensive players did not use a stick for the drill. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)Dana Melby, left, defends Cat Sexton during a March 18 practice for the Niskayuna girls lacrosse team at Hillside Elementary School. Defensive players did not use a stick for the drill. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — A terrific 2014 season ended in heartbreak for the Niskayuna girls lacrosse team, and the Silver Warriors have not forgotten their triple-overtime loss in the Section II title game.

Frankly, the Silver Warriors have not wanted to forget how close they were a year ago to winning an area championship. With 13 players returning from last year’s squad, the 2015 version of the Silver Warriors is stacked with talent and ready to make up for last year’s season-ending loss to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.

“That’s definitely motivated us,” senior Dana Melby said at a recent practice. “We don’t want to lose that game this year.”

“It was a memorable ending,” said head coach Jason Bach, whose team lost 9-8 to the Spartans to cap a 13-4 season.

Alissa Franze cradles the ball during a March 18 practice for the Niskayuna girls lacrosse team at Hillside Elementary School. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

Alissa Franze cradles the ball during a March 18 practice for the Niskayuna girls lacrosse team at Hillside Elementary School. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

The first chance for the Silver Warriors to start things off right in 2015 comes April 3, when the squad will play host to Suburban Council rival Saratoga Springs at Union College. Before that opener, though, Niskayuna has work to do in terms of fine-tuning what is likely one of Section II’s more well-oiled machines.

“We’ve got a good core group of strong players — smart players — back at all positions,” Bach said.

Offensively, seniors Brianna Sacks and Cat Sexton are Niskayuna’s likely leaders, as the duo combined for 94 goals a year ago. Melby will help to anchor the defense, while Bach is bullish about the potential of junior goalie Maya Manchester.

“She’s been phenomenal this preseason,” Bach said of the team’s likely first-year starter.

The tricky part this preseason for the Silver Warriors has been integrating its new parts into a mostly veteran roster.

“Our returning players all know how we play,” said Sexton. “It’s kind of tough to bring new people in and figure everything out.”

“We had a lot of underclassmen come up,” said Sacks, whose squad has eight first-year varsity players. “They’re trying to figure out plays and we’re getting used to each other.”

Defense and communication are two areas Sexton pointed to as needing work for the squad, but the Silver Warriors are not fretting about being an unfinished product at this very early juncture. Bach said his club will be ready to roll once the season opener comes around, and Melby said the Silver Warriors expect to start their season with an effort befitting one of Section II’s top teams.

“We’re picking up where we left off,” she said.

Head coach Jason Bach, right, talks with several members of his team during a March 18 practice for the Niskayuna girls lacrosse team at Hillside Elementary School. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

Head coach Jason Bach, right, talks with several members of his team during a March 18 practice for the Niskayuna girls lacrosse team at Hillside Elementary School. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

Goalie Maya Manchester prepares to make a pass during a March 18 practice for the Niskayuna girls lacrosse team at Hillside Elementary School. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

Goalie Maya Manchester prepares to make a pass during a March 18 practice for the Niskayuna girls lacrosse team at Hillside Elementary School. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

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.