Normally, the Bethlehem girls lacrosse team wouldn't need a confidence booster before the Section II, Class A playoffs.
Then again, this hasn't been a normal season in Delmar.
After struggling against the top half of the Suburban Council for most of the regular season, the Lady Eagles earned a 7-5 victory over Niskayuna Friday to finish their league schedule with a 7-7 record and enter Sectionals with a 9-9 overall mark.
It just proves how hard we've been working all season, said Bethlehem coach Dawn Austin. "We've had some stumbles and some bad games, but we've worked hard and it paid off today."
Bethlehem's victory was fueled by a senior and a freshman. Senior attacker Megan O'Donnell scored four goals including the game-clincher with 3:19 left in the second half, and freshman goaltender Kristina Maksuti stopped 12 shots to pick up the win.
"For a freshman, she was definitely a rock for us tonight. That was an outstanding game," Austin said of Maksuti, one of several freshmen starting for Bethlehem this season.
Leanna Pace gave Niskayuna (9-5, 10-5) a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the first half, but that was the last lead the Silver Warriors held. O'Donnell scored twice over than next 10 minutes, and Kaitlyn Martin tallied off a feed from Michelle Primomo with 10:18 left in the half to put Bethlehem ahead 3-1.
Primomo and O'Donnell capitalized on 8-meter free position shots to increase the Lady Eagles' lead to 5-1 before Niskayuna's Jenn Primeau scored with 36 seconds left in the first half to end Bethlehem's 5-0 run. Carly Richards then opened the second half with an unassisted goal to cut Niskayuna's deficit to 5-3.
There would be a long wait before anyone scored again, mainly because Bethlehem held on to the ball in an effort to run as much time off the clock as possible. Niskayuna thought it had a goal midway through the second half, but Beth Halayko's free position shot was disallowed because she entered the crease before she shot the ball. A short time later, Primomo ended the 11-minute scoring drought with her second goal of the game to put Bethlehem ahead 6-3.