BY JESSE JACOBS
The home crowd was out in full force at Ballston Spa High School’s William R. Scott Field on Friday, May 13, for the much anticipated rematch between the Ballston Spa boys lacrosse team and their Saratoga County rival Shenendehowa.
The Plainsmen showcased the same level of dominance that propelled them to their first win over Ballston Spa in the season opener back on April 7. That same level of play has boosted Shenendehowa to a undefeated record in the Suburban Council this season. The 10-1 Shenendehowa win back in April played out a little differently than the Plainsmen’s 9-1 victory on Friday night.
“I actually think we played much better the first game then this game,” said Coach Joe Pollicino. “The first game was much cleaner. They [Shen] were up 4-1 at half, then 6-1 in the 4th so we were in the game the whole time. This time we were more sloppy.”
Shenendehowa brings with them an intimidating presence anchored by All-American Syracuse bound goalie Bob Wardwell as well as several other players destined for Division I collegiate lacrosse. Wardwell once again showed why he’s a difference maker surrendering just one goal to Ballston Spa for the second time this season. Ballston Spa’s own Division I bound midfiedler Troy Gargiulo scored the one goal in each game.
Gargiulo’s goal came early in Friday’s contest, just two minutes into the game. Shenendehowa would handle the scoring for the remaining 46 minutes, scoring nine goals while holding Ballston Spa scoreless.
“Getting our kids to believe is what it is about,” said Pollicino. “[Shenendehowa] are a top-10 team in the state, really one of the better teams in the country, but we need to have a mentality that we can play with a team like that. That’s what it’s about — it’s about trying to beat the best. [Shenendehowa] is going to take the toughest punch from everyone all year but we need to come out believing right from the first whistle and we didn’t.”
Shenendehowa goaltender Bob Wardwell made several impressive saves, but Ballston Spa was also uncharacteristically inaccurate with their shooting. Ballston Spa’s own goaltender Wayne Van Valkenburgh made several great saves on the other end, but Shenendehowa’s offensive attack became overwhelming. The Ballston Spa defense played up to their usual standard, allowing single-digit goals to an elite offensive Plainsmen team.
Shenendehowa split its nine goals between six different players. Tim Coll, Max McAuliffe, and Michael Jenkins each put two in the back of the net. Shenendehowa fields so many weapons that even an elite defensive team like Ballston Spa has a tough time matching up.
Ballston Spa’s much improved offense has still struggled with consistency. Pollicino keyed the offense as a targeted area of improvement.
“When they beat us 10-1 the first time and 9-1 this time it’s not the defense, it’s the offense,” said Pollicino. “The offense has to catch up and do what they need to do.”
The Scotties will have one final test on Thursday, May 19, when they face a Niskayuna team that is just as tough as the Plainsmen. Niskayuna beat Ballston Spa in a one-sided contest by a count of 14-2. Ballston Spa will look to build confidence in their final regular season match up. Luckily for the Scotties their superb play throughout most of the season will likely land them a home field first-round Sectional playoff match up.
Pollicino welcomes the challenge of Niskayuna in the team’s final game as excellent preparation for the playoffs. From the beginning of the year the Scotties have stated their goals firmly without any recoil. They are playing to not only get to sectionals or the sectional finals, they want to win it all.