Shenendehowa, Niskayuna and Bethlehem.
They are the three traditional powers among the Suburban Council girls soccer teams.
Shaker is trying its best to break into that group this season.
The Blue Bison (5-1 league, 7-1 overall) won their first five league games before losing to Bethlehem 2-1 in overtime Monday. Among their victories is a 2-0 win against Niskayuna Sept. 14 the first time they've beaten the Silver Warriors in the program's long history.
That was definitely a historic moment for us," said Shaker coach Heather Daniels. "We played them in the Sectional quarterfinals last year, and we definitely felt we were in the game. We had one goal called back on a questionable call."
What's helped Shaker raise its level of play is a steady influx of year-round soccer players over the last several seasons, which has been the secret to the success of teams such as Shen, Bethlehem and Niskayuna.
"In the past, we've had athletes, but not necessarily year-round soccer players," said Daniels, who is in her second year coaching at the varsity level. "But with Latham Circle (soccer club) becoming a noteworthy club and with some of the girls playing with premier clubs, we've got more year-round players."
It also helps to have a veteran core. Players such as Caitlin Cahalan, Becca Millock, Corinne Pro and Kat Thomas have been at the varsity level for several seasons, and they know what it takes to win in the Suburban Council. They are currently the top four scorers on the team, with Cahalan leading with 12 points.
"I have three captains (Millock, Pro and Thomas), and they're all very athletic and are very good leaders," said Daniels. "They've just convinced the other girls that it was possible (to be an elite team)."
Ironically, the trick for Shaker now is not to overlook the rest of the Suburban Council. Teams such as Guilderland, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Saratoga and Columbia may not have the record the Blue Bison have, but they're no less dangerous.
"I talked to them before the season about being overconfident (against weaker opponents), and I also told them not to think that Bethlehem is unbeatable," said Daniels. "I also told them that Shenendehowa is not out of our reach."
Shaker won't have a shot at Shen until Oct. 12 in Clifton Park. In the meantime, the Blue Bison will try to bounce back from its overtime loss to Bethlehem when it meets Mohonasen Wednesday in Rotterdam. They then have four consecutive home games starting with Friday's game against Columbia.""