Not much has changed within the Suburban Council boys lacrosse ranks.
Niskayuna is still the team to beat, with Guilderland and Shenendehowa poised to be the Silver Warriors’ closest pursuers.
There’s no question that they’re the team to beat, Guilderland coach Sean McConaghy said of Niskayuna.
That won’t be the case when the Section II, Class A playoffs begin in May, though. Niskayuna has moved back down to Class B after playing in the last six Class A finals and winning the last four Sectional championships.
`We expect to win Sectionals, whether we’re in Class A or in Class B,` said Niskayuna coach Mike Vorgang.
Niskayuna’s move is potentially bad news for a Class B program like Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, which reached last year’s Sectional final after struggling to a last-place finish in the Suburban Council Gold Division. But, BH-BL coach Paul Federoff said Niskayuna’s presence in the B’s is not a big deal.
`It just means that we expect to meet Niskayuna in the finals this year,` said Federoff.
Niskayuna’s move also means that the Class A playoffs are wide open, with Guilderland, Shen, Shaker and Christian Brothers Academy among the early favorites to claim the Sectional championship.
`It’s good because we’ll have a state representative in Class B and a state representative in Class A,` said McConaghy.
Here is a closer look at this year’s Suburban Council.
Head coach: Sean McConaghy
Key players: Kip Stillman (defense), Rory Nunamacher (midfield), Travis Moore (midfield), Alex Trolenburg (defense), Paul Jones (attack), Brian Dyer (attack), Dan Lee (midfield), Anthony Powers (midfield), Cody Futia (defense), Christian DePersis (goal), Alex Peebles (goal)
Outlook: The Dutchmen will try to get past the disappointment of last year’s Sectional quarterfinal loss to Shaker with a new group of players. `We’ve got to see what our goalies can do, and we’ve got to see if we can score goals,` said McConaghy. `If we can do both things well, then we should be fine.`
Niskayuna Silver Warriors
Head coach: Mike Vorgang
Key players: Dan McKinney (midfield), Jared Franze (midfield), Steve Abba (defense), Josh Martin (defense), James Manchester (goal), Mark Panneton (attack), Guy Waltman (midfield), Ryan Alden (defense), Nolan Connors (attack), Justin McKinney (attack), Colin Foster (attack), John Quinn (defense), Sean Collins (defense)
Outlook: With several key players back at both ends of the field, the Silver Warriors will be a clear favorite to win the highly-competitive Blue Division again. `I think it’s going to be a great competition, as usual. All the teams in that division are always competitive,` said Vorgang. `Whoever can focus on the task at hand and not look too far ahead will win the division.`
Saratoga Blue Streaks
Head coach: Jon Coons
Key players: Matt Behan (midfield), Alec Cloutier (defense), Zack Lafarr (defense), Tyler Weil (attack), David Klapp (attack), Joe Scully (midfield), Ben VanEarden (midfield), Bobby O’Connor (midfield), Cody Nizolek (attack), Tristan Sperry (attack), Michael Regan (attack), Gill Connors (goal), Eric Hayden (defense), Hunter Hines (defense)
Outlook: Though the Streaks will feature several young players in their starting lineup in 2009, Coons said they have the ability to compete right away. `The kids that came up from JV, there’s some very good lacrosse players in that group,` he said. `I think we’re all in the same boat in that we’ll have a lot of young kids, but I think we’ll be right in the mix in the league.`
Shaker Blue Bison
Head coach: Shawn Hennessey
Key players: Luke Walsh (midfield), Joe Shields (midfield), Parker Armsby (attack), Doug Swezey (attack), Michael Battaglia (defense), Nick Huban (defense), Kenny O’Connor (goal)
Outlook: After making a stunning run to the Class A final last year, the Blue Bison are hoping to have a far better regular season following a four-win campaign through the Suburban Council in 2008. `Last year was fantastic ` but we will have to work hard to repeat it this year,` said Hennessey.
Head coach: Chuck Holohan
Key players: Ed Francis (defense), Mike Daly (midfield), Andrew Dorsey (defense), Anthony Zappone (midfield), Tim Cole (attack), Bob Wardwell (goal), Brandon Connors (midfield), Mike Stevens (midfield)
Outlook: If the Plainsmen are going to make a deep run in Sectionals, they are going to need help up front from a group of young players including Daly, Cole, Connors and Stevens. `I think we’re going to be young, but I think we’ll shock some people. We’re very athletic and very skilled,` said Holohan.
Ballston Spa Scotties
Head coach: Kevin Dayton
Key players: Greg Dunlavey (attack), Mike Boisvert (attack), Troy Gargiulo (midfield), Chris Ohnsman (defense)
Outlook: The Scotties are relying on a new crop of players to help them move back up the Gold Division standings. `I think we’re just as good as any of the other teams,` said Dayton. `We have the talent, and the players work very hard.`
Head coach: Dave Rounds
Key players: Max Wagner (defense), Taylor Bastow (defense), Alex Cooper (defense), Parker Lecherling (defense), Theo Ferguson (goal), Steve Russo (midfield), Pat Johnson (midfield), Andy Bettinger (midfield), Janes Christiansen (midfield), Mike Rondinaro (attack)
Outlook: The Eagles are still a young team with several juniors among the group of returning players, but Rounds said that the experience they gained last year will help them. `I think our strength is our defense,` said Rounds. `On offense, I think we’ll be a patient team. We’re going to take our time and try to find the open shot.`
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Spartans
Head coach: Paul Federoff
Key players: Ian Schwan (midfield/attack), Mike Eddy (midfield/attack), Kyle Jones (midfield/attack), Mike Russell (defense), Ryan Kissane (defense), Collin Whiteford (goal), Connor Nash (goal)
Outlook: After making their way to the Class B finals last year, the Spartans feel that they’re ready to make some noise within the Suburban Council in their third season at the varsity level. `Last year I felt that was our building year. This year, I feel it will be a good regular season for us. I’m expecting that we can run with the (class) A schools,` said Federoff.
Colonie Garnet Raiders
Head coach: Mike Joyce
Key players: Garrett Dollard (midfield/attack), John Charton (midfield/attack), Cory Brustle (defense), Matt Hamilton (goal), Davian Brink (midfield), Davey Mitchell (midfield), Cam Signorelli (attack)
Outlook: Like many of their Suburban Council counterparts, the Garnet Raiders are reloading after graduating several key players. The key, Joyce said, will be how quickly everyone adjusts to their roles. `It starts with the scoring at the top, and we’ll work our way down from there,` he said.
Columbia Blue Devils
Head coach: Kyle Randall
Key players: Casey Balzer (midfield/attack), David Dickie (defense), Tim Lockrow (attack), Kyle Green (goal), Joanthan Gavitt (midfield), Alex Gladd (midfield), Christopher Wos (midfield), Dave Wilbur (attack), Nick Balzano (long stick midfield), Jake Persons (midfield)
Outlook: The Blue Devils graduated half of last year’s roster, but Randall said he likes the way newcomers such as Wilbur, Balzano and Persons are gelling with the veterans. `We have a lot of learning to do with half the team being young guys, but they’re progressing nicely,` said Randall.“