The Guilderland girls lacrosse team is bringing Section II back to the Final Four.
With Sunday's 19-3 regional victory over Section IX champion Kingston at Deitz Stadium, the Lady Dutch advance to this weekend's state Class A tournament in Cortland. They are the first Section II team to reach the Final Four since Bethlehem did it in 2005.
And Guilderland (21-0) has made it look easy. The Lady Dutch have won every game this season by no less than five goals, and they've only allowed one opponent (Shaker) to score 10 goals in a game.
Guilderland coach Gary Chatnik said that doesn't mean Guilderland has cruised through every second of its season, though.
I think we've faced some challenges from teams like Shaker, Niskayuna, Bethlehem and Saratoga, said Chatnik. "Every game, our kids have to go out and play our best game in order to win."
When there have been challenges, Guilderland has quickly squelched them. An example was last Wednesday's regional semifinal against Section I champion Lakeland-Panas, a team the Lady Dutch defeated 10-5 during the regular season. Guilderland was locked in a close game until it went on a 6-0 run to close the first half with an 8-2 lead. The Rebels never recovered as the Lady Dutch went on to a 13-4 victory.
"Everybody took turns making great plays," said Chatnik. "It's just overall hustle, being in great shape and being able to come back from making a mistake by scoring a goal or forcing a turnover that leads to a goal."
Guilderland's balanced attack helps it maintain control of its games. Eight players scored in last Wednesday's victory over Lakeland-Panas led by hat tricks from Courtney Davis and Jen Madsen. Ten players reached the scoring column for Guilderland in Sunday's romp against Kingston, with Danielle Tetreault providing a good chunk of the offense with six goals and two assists.
The Lady Dutch will need a similar effort in Friday's semifinal against the winner of Tuesday's Long Island championship between Farmingdale (Section VIII) and Northport (Section XI) if they hope to reach Saturday's Class A final.
"When you get to the Final Four in anything, you're not going to face a team with any weaknesses," said Chatnik. "We're going to go out and play our best. If we play our best game, we're hoping for a great result.""