BY MICHAEL KELLY
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.
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.