The Guilderland girls lacrosse team is back in the Section II Class A finals.
With their 18-8 semifinal victory over Shenendehowa Thursday, May 15, the Lady Dutch (14-4) advance to their eighth consecutive Sectional championship game appearance. Awaiting them Wednesday, May 21, at the University at Albany is Shaker (15-0), which defeated Saratoga Springs 15-6 in the other semifinal game.
“It comes down to the kids,” said Guilderland coach Carrie Britt. “I’m confident that their best games are ahead of them.”
A month ago, it appeared that Guilderland might be vulnerable to an early playoff exit. The Lady Dutch lost three of their first five games, all by one goal, including a 12-11 overtime setback against Shaker April 16 at Siena College.
Britt said a lot of Guilderland’s early struggles had to do with the adjustments the team had to make following the graduation of several starters from last year’s Sectional championship squad and the departure of coach Gary Chatnik.
“The early results were a little surprising, but Gary had been there for a lot of years, and we graduated a lot of seniors,” said Britt. “I felt this group of seniors had to figure out who they were and lead the way.”
Guilderland has been on a roll since the overtime loss to Shaker. The Lady Dutch won all of their remaining Suburban Council games by at least three goals, and their defense limited opponents to less than 10 goals eight times in the last 12 games.
“The kids had to adjust, and they adjusted quickly,” said Britt.
Guilderland’s offense has been as strong as ever this season. Morgan Hardt (73 goals) and Cara Quimby (53 goals) have been among the Suburban Council leaders in points, and they’re getting support from Shannon Mackesey (39 goals, 29 assists), Michaela Jones (24 goals) and Rebecca Golderman (22 goals).
Shaker has its share of scoring stars, too. Senior Julia Lennon leads Section II in goals (83), while Sarah Cheney (37 goals, 31 assists) is a double threat for the Lady Bison. Kailyn Hart (36 goals) and Maeve Lennon (29 goals) have also cleared the 20-goal plateau.
As good as the offensive match-up for Wednesday’s final is, Britt said it’s the goaltenders – Guilderland’s Kaitlyn Hess and Shaker’s Julia Maloney – who will be the key to success.
“In championship games, goalies win them, and when they lose, they place all the blame on themselves,” said Britt.
Hess helped Guilderland in the semifinal win over Shenendehowa with 12 saves, but it was the offense that took center stage again for the Lady Dutch. Quimby struck for six goals, while Golderman and Mackesey each contributed four goals.
Britt said she doesn’t know how Wednesday’s final will turn out, but she’s anticipating another close game against Shaker.
“I’m excited to play this game because it’s one of those games where you never know what will happen,” said Britt.