Guilderland’s Suburban Council streak over, Bethlehem wins in overtime
ALBANY — Over the previous seven seasons, the Guilderland girls’ lacrosse team had lost only in the sectional finals or at the state level. Ever since April 20, 2007, the Dutch have cruised through its Suburban Council regular-season schedule, but that lengthy win streak ended with an overtime loss to Bethlehem last Friday.
Guilderland has been the exception and the rule when it comes to Section 2 girls’ lacrosse. The Dutch have stacked up an insane number of wins and five championships, so losing this early in the 2014 season can seem like a shock.
Last Friday’s game at UAlbany was soaked in cold rain. Guilderland Head Coach Carrie Britt, who took over for long-time Hall of Fame coach Gary Chatnik this year, said that her team underestimated Bethlehem.
“We thought we would win coming into the game,” Britt said.
It had been Bethlehem that last gave Guilderland a regular-season league loss on April 20, 2007. Then, Britt was coaching Shaker, and she remembers handing Bethlehem a loss that year; the Eagles had been on a similar long winning streak as an elite team.
Last Friday, Bethlehem was elated after beating Guilderland, 13 to 12, in overtime, and the Eagles made sure to celebrate. Britt said that her Shaker team danced all over the field, too, after defeating Bethlehem in 2007.
“We took no joy in that; it was awful,” Britt said of last Friday’s loss. “There’s the weight of seven seasons on their shoulders, and, when you’re at the top, everyone wants to take you down.”
Guilderland was not sharp last Friday, missing passes, and losing ground balls on the turf. The Dutch had beaten Columbia by 15 goals the day before, so maybe fatigue was a factor.
Ahead by two goals with five minutes left in regulation play, Guilderland tried to maintain possession, but lost the ball two different times. Bethlehem was able to score twice to put the game into overtime, eventually winning the game with another goal.
“We can’t underestimate ever again,” said Britt. “We need to give teams respect, and take care of the ball.”
Britt told The Enterprise that Bethlehem should be proud for playing well; it was the best she had ever seen them play. Kaylee Rickert and Emma Cremo lit up the scoreboard for the Eagles, unnerving the Dutch defense.
“We didn’t give those girls full attention,” said Britt. “There are several teams out there that work hard in the off-season, and several girls like Ricker.”
Guilderland was practically untouchable in the middle of its championship run from 2007 to 2010, but Suburban Council opponents started to study how the team played. Eventually, Niskayuna (2011) and Shaker (2012) played well enough to take the Class A crown from Guilderland in consecutive years; both championship games were extremely close, however.
“It’s very interesting because now it’s time for us to do some homework,” Britt said. “I mean, no one is counting us out, no way. It’s one loss, and it’s not like we haven’t lost a game before.”
The Dutch reclaimed its Class A title in 2013. Britt, previously Chatnik’s assistant, said that last Friday’s loss to Bethlehem hurt as much as those losses in 2011 and 2012.
“There’s a lot of weight on our shoulders, and it’s very hard for kids to be perfect all of the time,” said Britt. “We had a day of mistakes, and these girls will be defined by how they respond to those mistakes.”
Britt said that the loss to Bethlehem is a major learning experience for Guilderland, and it was heartbreaking because the seven straight years of winning every league game was nothing to brush off.
Did the Guilderland players shed any tears?
“It’s hard to say, but I marched them off the field when they were welling up,” said Britt of tears. “You could let them cry, be sad, or pick them up off the ground and tell them what they did wrong.”
Guilderland has a talented and experienced roster, but the team also has some young players. Seniors Morgan Hardt and Shannon Mackesey, and juniors Cara Quimby and Rebecca Golderman will be playing Division I lacrosse in college; the Dutch have had numerous past players go on to play Division I.
“We have to earn our wins the old-fashioned way, in the dirt,” Britt said on Monday. “I’m excited, and the kids are excited, too.”
She concluded, “No one can be perfect forever.”