Returning talent gives Niskayuna field hockey a strong starting point

Eileen King follows through on a shot during a Niskayuna field hockey practice Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)Eileen King follows through on a shot during a Niskayuna field hockey practice Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Sportswriter

NISKAYUNA — With a series of scrimmages to play before its Sept. 2 opening game against Saratoga Springs, the Niskayuna field hockey team has several chances to mold itself into a cohesive unit before league play starts.

Already, though, things are looking positive for the Silver Warriors. As the first practice concluded of her team’s second week of preseason training camp, head coach Alison Broomhead said she’s been pleased with the way her Niskayuna players have started their 2016 season.

Gigi Coburn heads to goal during a Niskayuna field hockey practice Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Gigi Coburn heads to goal during a Niskayuna field hockey practice Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

“They came back in better shape than they have in past years and they were crisper skill-wise, too,” Broomhead said. “Every drill we’ve done, we haven’t had to go back and learn it again. We just started with it and we’ve progressed from there.”

Niskayuna’s 2015 season ended in the Section II Class A semifinals with a loss to Shenendehowa, which finished its season in the state semifinals.

Five of the eight Silver Warriors who received recognition in 2015 when the Suburban Council announced its all-league teams have returned for this season of play, giving Niskayuna a strong base to start from for this fall’s campaign.

“We’re expecting to have a good season,” senior Nora Molino said. “We’re meshing together nicely so far.”

Niskayuna’s roster for the 2016 season includes 22 players, 18 of whom are upperclassmen.

Julia LeBlanc makes a stop in goal during a Niskayuna field hockey practice Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Julia LeBlanc makes a stop in goal during a Niskayuna field hockey practice Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

However, senior Natalie Metzger said getting used to playing on Niskayuna’s home grass field — as opposed to the turf setting most players use during the offseason — has been more of an adjustment for the Silver Warriors than meshing the members of their roster, which includes freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.

“We’ve been working well as a team.” Metzger said. “We’ve had good passing.”

Niskayuna’s first chance to take on opposing foes is Thursday, when the Silver Warriors take part in a multi-team scrimmage at Shenendehowa. Broomhead and Molino have a similar goal in mind for their team from that scrimmage session.

“I’d like to see us flow well together there,” Molino said. “It’s the first time we’ll play together in [a game-like setting], so I want to see us working together well without forcing it.”

Natalie Metzger, left, defends teammate Christina Callahan during a Niskayuna field hockey practice Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Natalie Metzger, left, defends teammate Christina Callahan during a Niskayuna field hockey practice Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

“I want them to show they can pass and move as a unit,” Broomhead said.

Metzger said improving on-field communication is a must for the Silver Warriors, but she expressed confidence the squad would do better with that as it gets deeper into its preseason. That patient approach is one Broomhead said will extend into the regular season, in which her expectation is for her club to get better each day as it attempts to rejoin Saratoga Springs and Shenendehowa in the area’s top tier of squads.

“We have to take it by each day,” she said. “Each game is a new challenge.”

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.