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Riitano brings new attitude to Colonie lacrosse

First-year coach seeks to turn around struggling program

Senior Nicole DiPiazza, second from right, throws a pass to a teammate during last Wednesday’s Colonie girls lacrosse practice. The Lady Raiders begin their Suburban Council season March 28 against Guilderland.

Senior Nicole DiPiazza, second from right, throws a pass to a teammate during last Wednesday’s Colonie girls lacrosse practice. The Lady Raiders begin their Suburban Council season March 28 against Guilderland. Photo by Rob Jonas.

— Gina Riitano doesn’t want to hear about the past or think about the future.

All Riitano is focused on is turning the Colonie girls lacrosse team into a winner this year.

“We’re clearing the slate completely,” said Riitano, who takes over for Marylou Vosburgh. “It’s like they’re learning a new game.”

Reader poll

Which girls lacrosse team has the best chance to win the Suburban Council?

  • Bethlehem 15%
  • Colonie 4%
  • Guilderland 3%
  • Shaker 78%

149 total votes.

The Lady Raiders have been near the bottom of the Suburban Council standings for the last several years, but Riitano said it’s never been due to a lack of desire.

“I remember the first year I was on varsity at (Albany) Academy (in 1998), and we played Colonie, which was in its first year of varsity lacrosse,” said Riitano. “They played us close the whole way. Right there, I saw the scrap and heart these girls had that day. So when I saw this job opening up, I knew I had to get it.”

The group Riitano is working with is loaded with veteran players. Colonie returns most of its lineup from last year, including eight seniors.

“Our goal is to just fight in every game, win as much as we can and come together in Sectionals,” said senior defender Julia Halburian.

“It’s a tough league, but with all of the new coaches in the league I feel it’s wide open,” said senior midfielder Nicole DiPiazza.

Riitano has spent the first two weeks of the preseason teaching the players new techniques she said she believes will make them a more skilled team. It’s the same thing she did when she coached the Boston College club team.

“When I got there, we were one of the worst club teams in the nation. The first year I was there, we went to the national (college) club tournament and reached the semi-finals,” said Riitano.

DiPiazza and leading scorer Kim Carr is back to anchor an offensive unit Riitano said will take a balanced approach to attacking the goal.

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