BY JIM SCHILTZ
ALBANY — Niskayuna isn’t what you’d call a fast-starting lacrosse team, but the Silver Warriors sure know how to finish.
“After the first half, we figure out what the other team is trying to do,” said Niskayuna senior center/midfielder Bri Sacks. “In the second half, we kind of put the pieces together.”
Those pieces in Thursday’s Section II Class B championship game at the University at Albany included four unanswered goals to begin the second period, and Niskayuna held off stubborn Queensbury 11-8 to keep its perfect season going.
Marisa DiVietro registered the last two goals in the key spurt to give Niskayuna (No. 1 seed, 18-0) a 10-6 lead, and fellow junior Ellie Petraccione delivered a big insurance goal with 3:49 left after Queensbury (No. 2, 16-2) crept back in.
“It’s incredible what we pull off in the second half,” said DiVietro, a speedy midfielder who had an assist with her two goals. “In the second half, our nerves settle down. Coaches gives us a great speech, and we’re ready to go.”
Maya Manchester made 14 saves, Cat Sexton had three goals and an assist and Sacks collected two goals and an assist as part of Niskayuna’s sixth Section II title-game victory and first since it claimed the Class A banner in 2011.
Alissa Franze and Isabel Curro also delivered clutch goals, those coming before DiVietro’s two.
“I told them it’s zero-zero, and we’ve got to win the second half,” Niskayuna coach Jason Bach said of his halftime words of encouragement. “It was about getting the ball and doing something with it.”
“Our plan was to stay spread out and move the ball around. We did that,” said Sacks. “We wanted to stay big. It’s been one of our problems, when we get bunched up.”
Christie Raymond opened the second-half scoring for Queensbury 2:36 in, but her goal was waved off when officials huddled and eventually determined it was kicked in, leaving the game knotted at six.
“That goal threw us off a bit,” said DiVietro. “When the refs corrected it, we were so hyped up.”
Franze scored 58 seconds after the goal was disallowed, and the follow-up goals by Curro and DiVietro came just over two minutes apart. DiVietro connected on a free position opportunity and turned a Sexton pass into goal with 15:07 left to make it a four-goal game.
“That felt great,” DiVietro said. “Whatever I can do to help the team at the offensive end or the defensive end, I’ll do it.”
Raymond sparked Queensbury with five goals, the senior’s last on a free position making it 10-8 with 10:09 left. Shortly after Petraccione’s goal, Manchester capped her solid performance with a save on a free position bid.
“I’m pleased with the energy, the confidence and the team play the kids showed,” said Bach.
Niskayuna lost to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in last year’s Class B final in triple overtime 9-8.
“This is amazing,” said Sacks, who, along with Dane Melby, Curro, Sexton and Eva Hoskin are the only seniors on the Niskayuna roster. “This is the best that’s happened since I’ve been on the team.”
Thursday’s game was tied five times in the first half.
Niskayuna will take on Somers (Section I, 15-5) in a regional final Saturday at 4 at John Fallon Field.
Queensbury 6 2 — 8
Niskayuna 6 5 — 11
Queensbury scoring: Christie Raymond 5-0, Mary Rahal 2-2, Lindsey White 0-1, Katie Zilka 1-0. Niskayuna scoring: Ellie Petraccione 1-0, Marisa DiVietro 2-1, Abbey O’Briwn 1-0, Bri Sacks 2-1, Isabel Curro 1-0, Alissa Franze 1-1, Cat Sexton 3-1.
Goalkeepers: Queensbury, Jill Rizzo, 5 saves. Niskayuna, Maya Manchester, 14 saves.