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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 23, 2006

Voorheesville baseball

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — The Voorheesville baseball team will be small but talented this year.

There will be 12 players on the team, which will give Coach Hank Czerwinski a thin bench this season.

"It’s a little disappointing," Czerwinski said. "Hopefully, it changes in the future. But the junior-varsity has only 14 players."

The Blackbirds lost nine players from a team that won the Colonial Council last year for the first time ever.

However, the Blackbirds return a talented group of athletes and the league’s most valuable player, Peter Lindner.

Also returning is Stephen Cardinal who, as a sophomore last year, was named to the Colonial Council all-star first team at catcher.

Also returning are seniors Andy Catellier, Nick Duncan, and Jake Norris. Junior R.J. Curreri also returns. All four of those players saw considerable playing time last season and Catellier and Duncan are all-stars in football and basketball. Catellier will be playing football at Union College in the fall.

"Andy Catellier and Nick Duncan are senior pitchers," Czerwinski said. "With Lindner they give us three good starting pitchers."

Up from the junior-varsity team is sophomore Jay Conde.

"He’ll see significant pitching duty," Czerwinski said.

Junior Justin Arico is new to the varsity team as are classmates Pino Ragonese, Bryce Gray, Matt Henry, and sophomore Chris Massaroni.

"The one thing I’m worried about is the amount of baseball players in Voorheesville," Czerwinski said. "We’ll go with what we got."

"Athletic group"

Czerwinski said that pitching will be a strong point and that his team’s hitting will also get stronger.

And everyone will be contributing.

"The bench is stronger," the coach said. "Everyone will be playing somewhere. On paper, we look good. We’ll see what happens when we’re on the field and go from there.

"This is a very athletic group," Czerwinski added. "They will be playing different positions. Andy will be playing in the infield and outfield and will pitch."

Czerwinski said it will be a challenge for the Blackbirds to defend their Colonial Council title.

"It is high-school baseball," Czerwinski said. "Anything can happen. On paper, everything looks like it’ll work out. But it’s on the field that matters. We’ll see the best of everybody because we are the defending champions."

Czerwinski is worried that there could be a team out there looking to sneak its way to the league title like the Blackbirds did last season.

"There could be a team out there like us last year," the coach said. "They’ll be working to make their mark. We’d like to return as Colonial Council champions."

Czerwinski likes the talent on this team.

"If the expectations are fulfilled," he said, "we should be pretty decent. I like the consistency of the infield and outfield positions. The kids that aren’t pitching will be in different spots.

"We don’t have the luxury of a Bethlehem or Shenendehowa," Czerwinski said of much larger schools. "They have 18 or 20 students on their roster."

But the league is wide open, Czerwinski said.

"Who knows what’s going to happen," he said. "Anyone can take it. But we should be all right. We have the confidence to do well in the league. We have the confidence to be in sectionals and do well from there."

Guilderland girls' lacrosse

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland girls’ lacrosse team is setting its sights on winning the Section II championship this year.

Guilderland coaches Gary Chatnik and Tara McConaghy see a lot of potential.

"This will be our most talented team ever," Chatnik said. "If we put it all together and play to our capabilities, then we will be there to challenge for the title. We have a very tough schedule and Bethlehem is still the team to beat, but we have the talent to do it. Getting to the championship game last year was a big step for us and we played well in that game, which has given our players a lot of confidence. We have tremendous team speed, experience, and the will to win."

Guilderland returns most of its starters, graduating three seniors and losing one transfer.

"We did not graduate many in numbers, but the three seniors we lost were of the highest quality in both player and person," Chatnik said. He said of his daughter, "Lauren Chatnik was a three-time first-team all-star goalie and an All-American as a senior.

The coach went on, "Ashley Pezze was our defensive leader as well as one of our most valuable players. And Erin Grosso was our leader on attack. They were not only excellent players, but they were all captains and wonderful leaders. They were a pleasure to coach and they were important pieces in our successful year."

Kelsey Schwan, a top scorer, transferred to Burnt Hills.

Strong midfield

The midfield will be the strength of the team this year, led by four seniors and one junior. The strong group will be led by senior captain Kayla Best, a two-time first-team all-star and an All-American as a junior. She scored 62 goals as a midfielder and was a top defensive player.

"Kayla has all the ability in the world and last year she came into her own," Chatnik said. "She can score, she can assist, and she can play defense. We need Kayla to be the leader this year and bring the intensity to the team needed to get us to the top. I think that Kayla will have a great year and I really believe she is up to the task."

Another senior captain ready to have a great season is Kaitlyn Vennard.

"Kaitlyn was a first-team all-star last year and made her mark in the Suburban Council," Chatnik said. "She is a terrific defensive player and is excellent in transition. Kaitlyn has worked hard and will be even better this year."

The other senior captain, Laura Driessen is back after an injury-plagued junior year where she missed most of the season.

"We are glad to have Laura back," Chatnik said. "She had an excellent sophomore year, but we did not get her back until late in the year last season. Laura can score and had great speed. She has worked hard to get back and I see her having an excellent year."

Senior Jen Mihok will be a key component of the midfield.

"Jen is one of the smartest players on the field," Chatnik said. "She sees things well and her play is relentless. Jen is our most consistent player. She does not get all the newsprint, but her effort on the field is second to none."

Junior Nikki Branchini is the final midfielder of this talented group.

"Nikki has not played in a couple of years," Chatnik said. "But she has picked right up where she left off. She is an excellent defender and plays the field well. Her stick is coming around, and as this season progresses, she will create a lot of attention."

Offense is young but talented

Scoring should not be a problem for the attack led by senior Molly Daley.

"Molly was our second-leading scorer and a second-team all-star last season," Chatnik said, "but had a severe injury in the semifinals and missed the finals. We really missed her in the championship game. Molly just started playing attack last year and really figured out the position about half way through the season. She was playing terrific and just had some bad luck with the injury. This year she has come back strong, looks great in leading the offense, and has not missed a beat. This will be a huge year for Molly."

There are high expectations for senior Val Feldman.

"Val is primed for a big season. It started last year with several big games and this year I expect her to be very consistent throughout the year," said the coach. "She can shoot and she really knows how to get open. Val is very good in settling the ball and keeps getting better. She was an honorable mention all-star last year and I see her getting much more recognition this year."

The rest of the attack is young, but talented. Sophomore Abbey Fashouer and ninth-graders Danielle Tetreault, and Amanda Best will get plenty of playing time in the two remaining slots.

"Abbey is a true lefthander that we have not had before," Chatnik said. "I see good things happening with her this year and I like her intensity.

"Danielle has played well this preseason and will play a lot this year," Chatnik added. "She scored several goals in our scrimmage this weekend and will be an important part of the offense. Amanda has also played well in early scrimmages and will have a lot of time in the games. She has shown a good stick and field awareness which will only get better."

Juniors Lindsey Green and Nicole Califano round out the attack.

"Lindsey is working hard and will have chances," Chatnik said. "Nicole has shown great improvement and keeps getting better."

Defensive starters return

The defense returns almost all the starters. Junior Devon Rosenberry leads the way.

"Devon has a knack for knowing what is happening on the field," Chatnik said. "She has excellent field sense and knows what to do with the ball when she gets it. She was a co-winner of our top defensive player award last season and, from what I see this year, she has gotten better."

The other top defensive player for the Lady Dutch last year was Ashley Buck.

"Ashley has a lot of talent and helped anchor the defense," Chatnik said. "She has a lot of speed, a good stick, and good field awareness. Ashley is very solid and very consistent on defense."

Junior Lynn Tran also started as a junior last season.

"Lynn just keeps getting better," Chatnik said. "She works hard, her stick is good, and she makes things happen."

All three juniors started last season and have great speed and are very reliable on defense. They also have the ability to bring the ball up and score, Chatnik said.

The fourth starter on defense is senior Sam Ruppenthal.

"Sam is ready for a breakout year," Chatnik said. "She has the ability and this year she is starting so I think, as she gets her confidence, she will play a major part in the success of the team."

Backing up the defense are juniors Julie Malkowski, Lindsay Kost, Francessca Pezze, and Jane Shanklin.

"Julie has looked good in the early season and should get time," Chatnik said. "She has shown aggressiveness and good field sense. Lindsay is working hard and improving. I like how she is progressing. Francessca has shown us good things and has good potential. Jane is starting to understand the defense and has shown us some good things."

The goalie position is in the hands of junior Jen Kaye.

"Jen started playing goalie last May on the junior-varsity team and has shown remarkable progress," Chatnik said. "She will be solid for us and the team is very confident with her in the goal. I think that Jen will be the biggest positive surprise on the team. She has just started and will only get better."

Chatnik predicts that the league will be wide open this season.

"I see a seven-team race in the Suburban Council," he said. "Everyone has gotten better. We have to play each game like it is the championship, but, if we play to our potential, work hard, and execute, we have a chance to do it."

Guilderland opens the season on March 28 against Queensbury, and then plays powerhouse Baldwinsville on March 31, before beginning league play.

Guilderland baseball

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — Guilderland baseball Coach Doug LaValley sees something special in this year’s team.

The fifth-year coach has eight returning players who played on the varsity all last season and two who came up for the Section II playoffs.

"My goal is to make the sectionals," LaValley said. "But the kids have bigger goals than that"The players said that they want to make the sectionals and get a home game and get a high seed."

The Dutchmen have their sights set on playing at Joseph Bruno Stadium in Troy at the end of the season.

"The guys want to play at the Joe on that last Friday night for the double A championship," LaValley said. "They are a tight group of kids. They are very competitive."

Among the eight are seniors Kevin Doherty, Reid Moreland, Nick Stark, Steve Blaauboer, Drew Zanotta, and Bill Rafferty.

Rafferty, who will play at Division I Fairfield University next year, and Doherty are two of the team’s captains.

"He is one of our leaders," LaValley said of Rafferty.

Junior Ben Henderson is the Dutchmen’s third captain.

Henderson has been on the varsity since his freshman year.

Also returning for the Dutchmen are juniors Nick Polsinelli, Joe Lima, and Mike Goldstein. Lima and Goldstein were call ups from the junior varsity late last season.

The Dutch will have to replace a good group of seniors that led the team to its first sectional win in eight years before bowing out in the quarterfinals.

Pitching ace Brendan Malkowski has graduated and moved on to The College of Saint Rose to play his baseball. Matt LaValley, the coach’s son and number-two pitcher and outfielder, is playing at Hudson Valley Community College.

Also graduated are former starters Josh Perches, Domenico Albanese, and Nick Napoli.

"We’ll be pretty good this year," Coach LaValley said. "But we have to replace Brendan. He is one of the best. He’s at Saint Rose and doing real good there."

Moving up

LaValley has 16 players total on his team this year.

Moving up from the junior varsity are juniors Ryan Winne, Greg Barcomb, Jimmy Sabbag, and sophomores Jake Colavito, Andrew Simpson, and C.J. Sohl.

Colavito has batted in the clean-up, fourth in the line-up, for the Dutch’s two scrimmages in New Jersey last weekend.

"We have some good hitters," LaValley said of his team. "I think it was our best year in the weight room. But these kids don’t have sophomore bodies. Believe me, they are men."

LaValley said the Dutch pounded the ball in their two scrimmages in New Jersey over the weekend and he liked a lot of things that he saw.

"We did pretty good," LaValley said. "We were down there an extra night. It was a little cold but we got what we wanted out of it. We are way ahead of schedule.

"We hit the baseball," LaValley added. "We’ll be able to hit and we’ll be able to put the ball in play. Usually pitching dominates hitting early. We did well, even in the cold weather, and that’s a good sign."

Guilderland will also have some experienced pitchers.

Henderson pitched last year and will return on the mound this year. He will also man first base when not on the mound.

Polsinelli will pitch as well as play second base for the Dutchmen. Zanotta and Blaauboer will be used mostly as pitchers this season. Moreland rounds out the pitching staff and will also play shortstop.

Rafferty, Doherty, Stark, and Lima will work in the outfield during the season and Goldstein will be the team’s catcher.

"We have to fill up what we lost," LaValley said. "But we have lots of returning starters. I think we are pretty deep."

"Good competition"

The Dutch open the season on April 7 against Albany High School. They play the next day against Bishop Maginn of Albany. Both teams are in the Big 10 conference.

Guilderland’s first league game will be against Shenendehowa on April 10.

"It’s normally what I do," LaValley said. "I like to play the Big 10 and see what they have."

The Dutch will also play Christian Brothers Academy, Schenectady, Amsterdam, and Catholic Central, all of the Big 10.

"It’s good to play teams we don’t normally play," LaValley said. "It’s good competition."

The Dutchmen will also be in the Blue Division of the Suburban Council. They are mixed in with the largest schools in the league — Shen, Shaker, and Saratoga — and will face those teams twice this season.

The Dutch will also play a regular-season game at Joseph Bruno Stadium. Guilderland will be the home team against Mohonasen on May 5. The first pitch of the that game is scheduled for 4:45 p.m.

"It’s a nice treat for the kids," LaValley said. "To go up there and play on that field is nice."

LaValley sees the steps his team has made over the past couple of years to improve and sees the team continuing to grow.

"We won a sectional game last year," LaValley said. "We made an enormous step forward. We can make a run for a title and I believe that can happen. My players believe in it. This program is definitely improving."

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