The lessons that Tom Schwan taught the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake boys lacrosse team last year are paying off this year.
The Spartans (0-2 league, 2-2 overall) won their second game of the season Tuesday by edging Queensbury 11-10 in overtime. Alex Lewek scored in the extra period to give BH-BL the victory.
That win, plus a competitive 11-6 Suburban Council loss to Section II power Niskayuna last Thursday, is giving Schwan a reason to feel optimistic about his team's progress.
We definitely feel that we're ahead of where we were at this time last year, said Schwan. "Last year, we weren't exactly sure what we were doing offensively and defensively. The guys didn't know why we were doing some of the things we were doing in practice and in games. This year, they understand the reasons why we do those things, and they're able to execute those things better."
The Spartans are still playing catch-up to the elite teams in the Suburban Council " Niskayuna, Shenendehowa, Guilderland, Shaker and Colonie " in their fourth year of varsity-level lacrosse. But as the players continue to develop their lacrosse skills, Schwan said the gap is starting to close.
"We're definitely optimistic about being more competitive this year," said Schwan. "We know we have to play well in order to compete."
BH-BL has been more than competitive when it's ventured outside the Suburban Council to play some of the Class B schools that it may face in the Section II playoffs this year. The Spartans knocked off South Glens Falls 19-2 in their season opener March 31 before Tuesday's overtime win against Queensbury.
The latter of those two non-league wins further cements BH-BL as a favorite to win the Sectional title this year. With two-time defending Class B champion Niskayuna moving into Class A this season, the field for the smaller school division championship has opened up for teams like BH-BL, Queensbury and Scotia-Glenville.