BY MICHAEL KELLY
ROTTERDAM — That it went down to the wire surprised nobody.
Niskayuna and Queensbury met Thursday for the third consecutive year in the Section II Class B girls’ lacrosse championship game, and the latest installment in their trilogy produced another hotly-contested final.
“Even if we were to play this game for the next five years in a row,” Niskayuna head coach Jason Bach said, “I’d imagine each one would be very similar to this.”
Bach meant in terms of the level of competition, but something else has been very similar in the teams’ championship meetings: the final results.
Niskayuna scored its latest championship win against Queensbury with an 8-7 decision at Mohonasen High School. The Silver Warriors won the 2015 championship matchup 11-8 and turned a halftime tie into a 14-8 win in 2016.
“Last year was very close, too,” Niskayuna senior Erin Doyle said. “We knew we could pull this one off at the end.”
Niskayuna looked like it might ease to a comfortable win after back-to-back goals from Doyle and sophomore Sydney McPartlon had the Silver Warriors up 8-5 with 7:20 to go. Queensbury, though, was back within one score with 5:03 to go after a goal from junior Rachel Spaulding.
“Every team can bring it,” McPartlon said, “and [Queensbury] brought it a lot.”
But Niskayuna closed out the game in strong fashion after Spaulding’s goal. Silver Warriors senior goalie Mary Tiscione made the last of her 10 saves with a kick with 4:30 to go, Niskayuna’s offense burned off a couple minutes with a solid possession and sophomore Ava Schroeder forced a turnover on Queensbury’s final meaningful possession of the game.
“We pulled through,” Tiscione said.
Niskayuna (No. 1, 12-6) and Queensbury (No. 2, 15-2) had each come off blowout wins in the semifinals with their high-powered offenses carrying them. The Silver Warriors had topped Columbia 17-1, while Queensbury had won 22-5 against Ballston Spa.
“But this one was a defensive game,” Bach said.
“I mean,” Niskayuna senior Becca Curro said, “what, wasn’t it 1-1 for 20 minutes?”
It felt like it. After Queensbury opened the scoring 35 seconds into the game, the Silver Warriors answered with McPartlon’s first goal with a little more than 10 minutes to halftime. The score stayed there until the final minute of the first half, when sophomore Annabelle Conover and McPartlon each scored to send Niskayuna into halftime up 3-1.
Queensbury never tied the score in the second half and Niskayuna led by as many as four after intermission.
“Just play our game,” Doyle said of the team’s second-half mindset. “That’s what we had to do.”
McPartlon led Niskayuna with four goals, while Doyle and Annabelle Conover each had a goal and assist. Sophomore Hannah Aronowitz and junior Tori Pantalone also scored goals for Niskayuna.
Queensbury freshman Meghan O’Connor and senior Devon Bolen each scored two goals.
Niskayuna advances to play next Wednesday in the first round of the state tournament against a Section IX opponent at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School.
Queensbury 1 6 — 7
Niskayuna 3 5 — 8
Queensbury scoring: Devon Bolen 2-0, Rachel Spaulding 1-1, Jordan Bentley 1-0, Caitlin Bolen 0-2, Meghan O’Connor 2-0, Katie Johnson 1-0, Lauren White 0-1. Niskayuna scoring: Sydney Mcpartlon 4-0, Erin Doyle 1-1, Annabelle Conover 1-1, Hannah Aronowitz 1-0, Tori Pantalone 1-0, Kit Christian 0-1.
Goalies: Queensbury, Jennifer Paszko, 5 saves. Niskayuna, Mary Tiscione, 10 saves.