The Niskayuna girls lacrosse team continues to make strides.
One year after winning their first Section II title, the Silver Warriors are asserting themselves again as the team to beat for the Class B crown. They already have victories over two premier Suburban Council programs, Bethlehem and Saratoga, and they've taken Shaker last year's class A runner-up to overtime twice before falling by one goal.
"It's a different team. We graduated four very good players from last year's team," said Niskayuna coach Pete Melito. "But, we're hitting our stride right now."
The Silver Warriors have been led by a dynamic offense that features several talented goal scorers including Allison and Shannon Pfohl, Leanne Pace, Jennifer Primeau, Carly Richards and Beth Halayko.
"What I like about our attack is that on any given day, one of them can score four or five goals, but what we're seeing is that they're all scoring two or three goals," said Melito.
Backing up Niskayuna's high-powered offense is a defense that features senior goaltender Karlee Blank, who has stopped 65 percent of the shots she's faced through the team's first 10 games.
"Karlee Blank is unbelievable," said Melito. "She comes up with some big saves, and the kids really feed off her energy."
The team's improved play doesn't always show up on the scoreboard. Besides the two one-goal losses to Shaker, Niskayuna has also suffered two losses to defending Class A champion Guilderland including a 16-8 setback last Thursday. But the Silver Warriors' wins against Bethlehem and Saratoga " two teams that had traditionally given Niskayuna fits " shows how far the team has come.
"Beating a team that has traditionally beaten us gives us a tremendous boost of confidence," said Melito.
The Silver Warriors got another crack at Saratoga Wednesday as they looked to move up the Suburban Council standings. They have also have another game against Bethlehem May 9, but in between they must battle the likes of Shenendehowa (May 5) and Colonie (May 7).
Once Niskayuna meets Bethlehem, it won't have to play another Class A school the rest of the season. The Silver Warriors close the regular season May 12 against Averill Park before starting defense of their Class B title.
"Obviously with the Class A schools, they are bigger schools with a bigger pool of players to choose from," said Melito. "Playing them will only help us down the road.""