The Guilderland girls lacrosse team wasn't about to let the opportunity to win a Suburban Council title slip away.
The Lady Dutch controlled play from the opening draw and pulled away to an 11-6 victory over Bethlehem last Friday to clinch the program's first league title and the No. 1 seed for the Section II, Class A playoffs.
We've been knocking on the door (the last two seasons), and we finally went through, said Guilderland coach Gary Chatnik. "We're growing up."
"It feels awesome," said Nikki Branchini, one of four seniors on Guilderland's roster. "Just the team effort we put forth was incredible."
Guilderland's effort had to be incredible. Bethlehem (10-3 league, 10-4 overall) " which has won the last eight Sectional championships " was coming off close victories over Shaker and Niskayuna that kept the Lady Eagles within a game of the Lady Dutch. Moreover, a win would have given Bethlehem a sweep of its regular-season series against Guilderland and a tiebreaker for the league title.
However, it was clear from the opening draw that the Lady Dutch (13-1, 15-2) would set the tone in this game. Guilderland consistently won battles for draws and ground balls, and it maintained possession nearly twice as long as Bethlehem.
"Bethlehem was just as aggressive as we were," said Chatnik. "It's a credit to our team that we kept battling and answered whenever they scored."
"It's an intensity-level thing when it was a 50-50 ball," said Bethlehem coach Dawn Austin. "Guilderland was a little more intense than us."
Guilderland asserted control on the scoreboard midway through the first half. After Abbey Fashouer charged through Bethlehem's defense and scored to give the Lady Dutch a 2-1 lead, Jen Kaye made two saves on point-blank shots by the Lady Eagles. A short time later, Danielle Tetreault tallied to make the score 3-1.