BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — If there is such a thing as a statement win, the Niskayuna girls’ soccer team produced one Thursday night.
After being minted as the state’s top-ranked team earlier this week, the Silver Warriors began the hyper-competitive stretch of their season with an eye-popping 9-4 win against a solid Saratoga Springs squad on their Senior Night.
“We wanted this one,” said Niskayuna senior midfielder Laura Labate, who had two assists.
The victory kept Niskayuna undefeated on the season at 11-0-1 in Suburban Council action, and 13-0-1 overall. Senior forward Marika Contompasis had three goals and an assist in the win, while sophomore forward Izzy Lynch added a pair of scores and two assists; senior midfielder Hannah Munro had a goal and two assists; senior midfielder Alissa Franze, senior defender Cassidy O’Rourke, and senior forward Deirdre Schutzman each scored once; and, senior midfielder Sarah Cook and senior defender Clare Lawson each had an assist.
Schutzman scored the game’s first goal in the third minute of play, and the scoring rarely let up from there. Niskayuna led 4-1 at halftime and scored the game’s final three goals in a frantic affair.
“The thing was, how many of those goals were really savable?” Niskayuna head coach Bryce Colby said. “I mean, maybe one? … All those goals were just great goals. You never see a goal-fest like that in this league.
“That,” Colby finished, “was weird.”
But quite enjoyable for the Silver Warriors, who lost to Saratoga Springs (8-3-1, 9-3-1) in last year’s Section II Class AA semifinals. Niskayuna’s excitement started during the pregame festivities when each of its seniors were honored, went up a notch with Schutzman’s early goal, and hit its peak late in the first half when Contompasis put the squad up 3-1 with a scorcher of a score delivered from about 30 yards away from the goal.
“We have so much team spirit and we’re so close,” O’Rourke said. “We were super excited to play this one.”
Saratoga Springs received a pair of goals from senior forward Cassidy Henderson and the Blue Streaks threatened to make a game of it midway through the second half. But, after Saratoga Springs turned a 6-2 deficit into a 6-4 one with about 25 minutes to play, Niskayuna pumped in three goals during the next 15 minutes.
“This shows me we have some work to do, but it also shows me we had some success,” Saratoga Springs head coach Adrienne Dannehy said. “Sectional time is what counts, so this was a learning lesson for us and it’s going to help make us stronger.”
Niskayuna moved into the state poll’s No. 1 spot for the first time this season on Tuesday, and the ranking has agreed with the Silver Warriors. The squad topped Schenectady 9-1 on Tuesday before Thursday’s 9-4 win.
The Silver Warriors admitted to being excited when they found out about their top-ranked status, but also said they remain focused on taking their season one game at a time.
“In the end, it doesn’t really matter where you’re placed,” Contompasis said. “It just matters how you play.”
And, against Saratoga Springs, Niskayuna played well enough against one of Section II’s powers to give pause to its doubters.
“A lot of people have been saying our record might be kind of skewed because we’ve played some of the easier teams,” Labate said. “It was important to prove to them that this is a strong team here with a lot of depth. We showed that with this win.”