BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Erin Doyle missed the end of last year’s run to a Section II Class B championship for the Niskayuna girls’ lacrosse team. The right ACL she tore last spring against Guilderland wasn’t healed in time, either, for her to play goalie this past fall with the Silver Warriors’ sectional championship-winning girls’ soccer squad.
Doyle wasn’t cleared to return to action until mid-November — just in time for the junior to get ready for this year’s girls’ lacrosse season.
“And I couldn’t wait,” Doyle said after scoring a goal to help Niskayuna to a 6-4 Suburban Council win Wednesday against Shenendehowa.
Niskayuna couldn’t wait to get Doyle back into its lineup, either. The 5-foot-10 junior — whose older sister Meghan plays for the University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team — had added another weapon to the Silver Warriors’ potent offense with her pick-setting and cutting.
“We post her up, too,” Niskayuna head coach Jason Bach said of Doyle, who often functions like a basketball power forward for the Silver Warriors. “She opens space up for our girls out top.”
“It’s awesome to have her back. We really missed her last year,” said Niskayuna senior Alissa Franze, who scored three goals against Shenendehowa. “Having her back, it’s great. She can just shoot right over the top of anyone. She can dangle [her stick] up in the air and catch any ball because she’s so tall.”
Doyle has scored 28 goals this season, leaving her behind only senior Marisa DiVietro for Niskayuna’s team lead. DiVietro, signed to the University of North Carolina, is the Silver Warriors’ leading scorer and playmaker with 37 goals and 28 assists. She said Doyle’s steady production is a major reason Niskayuna is off to such a strong start in 2016.
“When I’m running down the field with the ball, she’s always my first look on my right,” DiVietro said.
What Doyle adds to the Niskayuna (8-0, 10-0) attack was needed against Shenendehowa (5-3, 7-4), which held the Silver Warriors to a season-low offensive output. One of the defenders key in slowing Niskayuna was Shenendehowa senior Courtney Guiry, who missed a large chunk of this past winter’s basketball season with a left foot injury.
Guiry said her injury started out as a stress fracture and eventually required surgery. She missed some action early in her lacrosse season, but has recovered well enough to help anchor the Shenendehowa defense, which received 16 saves Wednesday from junior goalie Lexi Keen.
“You’ve got to grind through it,” Guiry said of any lingering pain in her foot. “I just really wanted to get out there and play. The turf is better for it than grass, that’s for sure. It still bothers me sometimes, but I put that out of mind. Winning is more important, stopping my girl is more important.”
Doyle said she dealt with some soreness early in the season as she got used to playing again every day. While she missed most of her sophomore season, she said her time away from playing helped her develop a better mental side to her game.
“Last year, watching helped me learn what to do in certain situations,” Doyle said.
Such as staying composed when things get rough, as they did for Niskayuna against Shenendehowa. After surging to a 3-0 start that Doyle capped with a goal, Niskayuna saw Shenendehowa battle back to tie the game at 3-3 and 4-4. DiVietro scored the Silver Warriors’ final go-ahead goal with 12:13 left in regulation, and Franze added an insurance score with 4:08 to go.
Shenendehowa head coach Jen Sykes was pleased with the resilience her team showed Wednesday after letting a 4-3 halftime deficit Monday become a 12-4 loss to Guilderland.
“The difference is we showed up and battled Niskayuna,” Sykes said. “We played to the last whistle.”
Bach liked that, too, especially since his squad had only played one game with a closer final margin than six goals before playing the Plainsmen.
“Tight games are good games,” Bach said. “Our girls felt the pressure and found a way to win.”
High-pressure postseason games, Doyle said, are the ones she is most looking forward to playing. Off to their undefeated start, Doyle said the Silver Warriors see no reason to lower their goals from defending their area title and chasing a state championship.
“And I think we can do it,” Doyle said.
Niskayuna 4 2 — 6
Shenendehowa 3 1 — 4
Niskayuna scoring: Alissa Franze 3-0, Marisa DiVietro 2-0, Erin Doyle 1-0, Sydney McPartlon 0-2, Abbey O’Brien 0-1. Shenendehowa scoring: Meg Pendergast 2-0, Ava Katinas 1-0, Jordyn Marr 1-0, Victoria Pardi 0-1.
Goalies: Niskayuna, Maya Manchester, 6 saves. Shenendehowa, Lexi Keen, 16 saves.