There will be a new Section II, Class A girls lacrosse champion Thursday at the University at Albany.
Bethlehem's eight-year Sectional championship reign ended last Wednesday when Shaker won a 16-15 double overtime game in the semifinals. The third-seeded Blue Bison will meet top-seeded Guilderland, which downed Saratoga 14-4 in the other semifinal game.
What I love about this year's final is you have two brand new teams which is nice, and you know it's going to be a close game, said Shaker coach Carrie Britt. "It's going to be a great show, and that's what you want in a game like this."
"There's so many teams of equal ability this year, and they're obviously a very good team," said Guilderland coach Gary Chatnik.
Guilderland (16-2) has an advantage in terms of championship game experience. The Lady Dutch reached the 2005 class A final before losing to Bethlehem, while Shaker has never made it to the finals.
"I don't think we have to do anything special," said Chatnik. "We just have to play our game and limit their top (offensive) players."
If any team can shut down Shaker's attack, it's Guilderland. The Lady Dutch have been one of the top defensive teams in Section II, allowing an average of less than six goals per game.
"You win the game on defense, and defensively I couldn't be more pleased right now," said Chatnik. "I don't think we've played better than we did in our last two games (against Bethlehem and Saratoga)."
Shaker (14-5) is one of the few teams to have success scoring goals against Guilderland this season. After losing 15-8 the first time, the Blue Bison forced five overtimes before the Lady Dutch prevailed 12-11 April 24. It was the last time Guilderland allowed more than 10 goals in a game.