Niskayuna player’s heart still in Texas

MARC SCHULTZ/Gazette Sportswriter Niskayuna's Fiona Zimmerman, right, who scored two goals Thursday, recently moved from Houston.MARC SCHULTZ/Gazette Sportswriter Niskayuna's Fiona Zimmerman, right, who scored two goals Thursday, recently moved from Houston.

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Sportswriter

ROTTERDAM — Twice Thursday, Fiona Zimmerman found herself in the right spot at the right time to score for the Niskayuna girls’ soccer team.

With a wide smile, she accepted the hugs of congratulations after each goal from her new teammates during the Silver Warriors’ 3-0 Suburban Council win against Mohonasen. The signs of appreciation felt extra good for a player still proving herself to a batch of new teammates after moving to Niskayuna in July.

“Believe it or not,” Niskayuna head coach Bryce Colby said, “she moved here from Houston.”

Zimmerman, 17, lived in the Kingwood section of Houston for the past decade, her family moving back to the Capital Region a little more than a month before Hurricane Harvey pummeled Texas.

“We just got incredibly lucky,” said Zimmerman, whose parents are Union College graduates.

Zimmerman is a Clifton Park native, but moved to Atlanta with her family when she was 3 and then went to Texas at age 7. As she’s readied for her senior year at a new school along with her sister — Addie Zimmerman, a freshman playing JV soccer for Niskayuna — Fiona Zimmerman said it’s been hard to do much when she’s away from the soccer field besides checking in on how her friends are doing back in Texas.

“I’ve been able to keep in touch with most of them,” Zimmerman said. “There were some patches where cell service was bad, but for the most part I’ve been constantly in touch with my friends.”

The news from them, of course, has not been good.

“It’s so awful. My town is under water. People I know — my friends — have four feet of water in their houses,” Zimmerman said. “It’s just starting to recede, and people are starting to completely tear out their ground floors. It’s a mess. . . . People were boating down the streets. It’s horrible.”

Senior Izzy Lynch, who assisted all three of Niskayuna’s goals Thursday, said Zimmerman has talked about what’s going on in Texas with her new teammates. The rest of the Silver Warriors have been impressed with the composed way Zimmerman’s handled the situation.

“She’s been so positive,” Lynch said. “She’s one of the sweetest girls on our team.”

And she was the team’s star Thursday. In a matchup featuring last year’s representatives from Section II in the Class AA and Class A state tournaments, Zimmerman broke a 0-0 tie with her goal in the 52nd minute. Niskayuna (2-0, 2-0) added its other two goals against Mohonasen (1-1, 1-1) in the final three minutes, with Zimmerman’s second goal coming right before freshman Olivia Piraino scored.

While Niskayuna walked away with the victory, Mohonasen left the matchup with more confidence. After beating Shaker earlier in the week, Mohonasen senior Lexi Canavally said the Mighty Warriors feel good about their first week of the season.

“We have different players. We’re younger,” Canavally said. “But, starting off, we’re 10 times better. Last year, it took us a bit to get into it. This year, we’re right into it.”

Likewise, Colby said Zimmerman has fit in with the Silver Warriors — winners of the last two area Class AA crowns — right away. Previously, Zimmerman played three years of varsity soccer at Kingwood High School.

“She’s clearly a starter,” Colby said. “She’ll get minutes for us all season.”

“She’s so versatile,” Lynch said. “It’s comforting for us when she’s on the field.”

Zimmerman said it’s hard not to feel relieved her family left Texas before the storm hit. Her old home had water come right up to it, she said, but made it through the storm without suffering major damage. Many of her friends were not as lucky.

“I wish I could help them back there,” Zimmerman said.

In Niskayuna, Zimmerman said she’s interested in putting together a fundraiser to help Harvey’s victims. As her old hometown suffers, she’s felt supported in her new one.

“It’s been good so far,” Zimmerman said. “People have been incredibly nice to me.”

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at 518-395-3109, mkelly@dailygazette.net or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.