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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 19, 2006

Dutch blast Ithaca, prepare for playoffs

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland football team finished the regular season with a loud statement and accomplished something that hasn’t been done in a decade.

The Dutchmen guaranteed themselves a winning season after crushing Ithaca of Section IV, 60-0, last Friday. The victory gave the Dutchmen a fifth win for the first time since 1995.

"It’s a good game to go out for us," said Guilderland quarterback Greg Barcomb. "We got to visit Cornell and look at an Ivy League stadium. Ithaca was not the best team. But we went and did what we needed to do and we got other guys into the game that don’t play that much. Now we’ll get ready for the playoffs."

The Dutchmen will be in uncharted territory on Friday night. They will host their first ever home playoff contest; it is the fourth home game they have had this season.

"We’re now 0-0," said running back Kevin Forbes. "We don’t want to start this season 0-1. Coach told us to do what we did at the beginning of the regular season. Win the first one and keep winning."

Forbes praised the reserves who in practices during the week run the opponents’ offense and defensive schemes.

"But this was great," Forbes added. "Kids that give us a good look at the other team during the week were able to get in. It was rewarding to see them play. They are the unsung heroes of the team. They have just as much dedication as anyone else on the team. They are all part of the engine."

To recap the Ithaca contest, the Dutchmen used their superior athleticism and size to their advantage.

"We came up with a lot of mistakes," said Guilderland Coach Dan Penna. "But we were able to overcome that with our athleticism and physical play."

Slow start

The game started out slow for the Dutch.

"In the first quarter, we were a little tentative," Penna said. "We played down to their level and we talked to the kids. The senior leaders stepped up and said that we need to play our best and do the best job we can do every game."

The Dutchmen scored 26 points in the second quarter to blow open the game and cruise to the win.

"We put the game out of reach and were able to rest our starters for the playoffs," Penna said.

Penna credited the play of Ben Kosinski and Jarrell Gatterson at running back and fullbacks Jason Lawrence and Josh Sawyer.

Barcomb also had a good day. He threw for 113 yards on six completions in 10 attempts.

"We are fine-tuning the passing game," Penna said. "We had gaping holes and the only negative yardage we got was when we fumbled or on penalties. We were able to contain the line of scrimmage.

"We needed to get better with that game," Penna added. "We might get some false confidence from beating a struggling team. But we made some mistakes that we can’t make in the playoffs."

Penna said his team made some penalties and missed some tackles on defense.

"At times we missed tackles and blocks but we made up for it with our athleticism," Penna said. "Every opponent in the playoffs is just as athletic. We have to execute better than we did against Ithaca in order to compete in the playoffs."

Forbes rushed for two touchdowns for Guilderland in the Ithaca game. Sawyer had two touchdowns on the ground and Barcomb, Kosinski, Nick Ranalli, and Lawrence rushed for touchdowns.

The final points of the game came after Parker Wolff intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown.

Wolff had a big game for the Dutch as he also blocked a punt and ran the ball for 22 yards that put the ball on the goal line.


Penna is proud of the win and what it means to the program to get its first winning season since 1995.

"I’m proud of what the kids accomplished this season," Penna said. "We got that elusive fifth win that we haven’t been able to get the past few years of finishing 4-5. The week before accomplished our goal of making the playoffs."

But Penna said it is a new season and the team is focused on Christian Brothers Academy, which it hosts on Friday night.

"It’s not about anything that we’ve done but what we do from this point forward," Penna said. "It’s not good enough to settle for what we’ve done. We want to beat CBA, but they are very good.

"They are a Big 10 program," Penna said. "They are no stranger to the playoffs. They produce big-time players. And they have one this year in Joel Vallano, who is going to Maryland on a scholarship. We have to play great on the offensive line to offset his ability."

Penna also said that the Brothers have good skill position players that the Dutch will have to focus their defense on.

The Dutchmen are looking to gain respect.

"We expect teams to come out and say we’re just Guilderland," Barcomb said. "We have to go out and earn respect."

Penna said that it’s good to be home for a playoff game.

"It’s surprising to have a home playoff game," he said. "At best, I thought we would have a road game. But the teams in the playoffs have all earned their spot. The committee did a nice job placing teams the way they were supposed to. A few teams feel they were left out, but we are happy to be in it and we want to make something of it."

It has been awhile since the Dutchmen had a home game this season.

"We only had three home games," Penna said. "The last two weeks of the season we’ve been on the road. The last home game was homecoming and that tends to be loaded with distractions. Really our last home game where we were able to focus was week two against Troy."

"We’ll enjoy it," Forbes said of the home game. "We play hard at home. But it’s just fun to play football and we’ll do what we’ve done all year and have a good week of practice."

"The home game is huge. For the seniors, they don’t want their last home game to be a loss to Saratoga," Barcomb said, referring to the homecoming defeat. "This is a chance to go back and leave a better mark."

Lady Dutch making strides in Suburban Council

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland girls’ cross-country team is making strides in trying to become one of the top teams in the Suburban Council.

The Lady Dutch are striving to have a record above .500 this fall and are near that mark as the season comes to an end.

"Going into this year," said Guilderland Coach Dave Kosier, "we had a lot of people returning. We’re hoping to improve on our eighth-place finish at sectionals. We’ve had a good dual-meet season and a chance to focus. We can still be above .500. That’s the primary goal of ours and then step it up at the end of the season and be better than eighth at sectionals."

Kosier said that the team is hoping for a top five finish at the sectionals, that takes place at the beginning of November.

"We have a more talented team than last year," Kosier said. "We had seven or eight runners and this year we have 15 to 16 quality runners. That will help us for sectionals. At regular meets, only seven runners score and, at sectionals, it’s 10 runners."

Kosier said that he isn’t sure who the 10 runners will be.

"They will be fighting for 10 spots at the end of the season," Kosier said.

The Lady Dutch have a 5-4 record going into Tuesday’s meet with Shenendehowa and Mohonasen. Kosier expected a win over Mohonasen though the Suburban Council is unpredictable.

Stepping up

"The league is tough," Kosier said. "Everyone else in the league has stepped it up. Our goal was to improve. We had a meet on Tuesday against Saratoga, Colonie, and Niskayuna. We had a big personal record to the total team time of 27:36."

Referring to runners ranging from varsity to freshmen, he went on, "Forty-five runners cut a considerable amount of time off their personal records. I was impressed with that."

The Lady Dutch traveled to the prestigious Manhattan Invitational and finished second in their division behind Colonie. The Dutch had 21 runners entered in the meet.

Kosier has seen improvement in the runners who were able to get on the bus to head to Van Cortlandt Park in New York City for the meet.

"Last year, you had to run our course in 20:43 to be the 14th runner to go to Manhattan," the coach said. "This year, you had to run 19:17 or faster. That speaks volumes about our improvement of the entire program. We have a lot of depth and they are pushing each other. It’s pretty exciting."

Sophomore Jen Madsen has been the top runner for the Lady Dutch all season.

"She’s been on varsity for a couple of years," Kosier said. "She is consistently our number one."

Senior Courtney DeLorenzo, sophomore Emily Cure, and Shannon Doherty have been contributing points to the varsity this season. Eighth-grader Erin Mossop was competing on the freshmen team but has competed for the varsity squad as well.

"We brought her up and she’s been third or fourth in each race she was brought up," Kosier said.

Leah Cure, Emily’s sister, was brought up for the varsity meet against Colonie and was the Lady Dutch’s third runner and had a time good enough to be among the top eight Guilderland runners on the course at Tawasentha Park.

"The young guys are running great," Kosier said. "They are helping the program."

Seventh-grader Kelly Camardo and ninth-grader Hannah Scott have been running strong and could be in the 10 runners going to sectionals.

"The people sitting around those spots are worried," Kosier said. "Scott and Camardo are right there. Everybody is interchangeable. We haven’t run the same seven in a varsity race all year. We had a couple people out and some runners slide in. Now the other runners are back and they are battling back."

Lynley Joynt, a sophomore, has had been a good runner this fall. She has finished as high as fourth in a race this season.

The senior captains of the team are Elana Murray and Laura Aziz.

"They have been varsity runners throughout," Kosier said. "They have been injured and have battled back."

Doherty, and Lily Rowan, both juniors, are the team’s other captains.

"Both of them are running well," Kosier said on Friday. "They will both be running at Manhattan on the junior varsity team.

"We joke that the next seven is our second varsity team," Kosier said of his team’s depth. "All the guys have either run varsity here or could run varsity for a lot of other programs."

The team started with 60 runners this season but is now running with about 50.

"Forty-five finished the last race," Kosier said. "We had five not there that are still on the team."

With a young team, Kosier expects the Dutch to continue to make strides in the league and in Section II, one of the toughest areas for running in the country.

"We’re having a good season," Kosier said. "It actually started going back to last year. It was great going 7-4 in the Suburban Council. It was a great turnaround. But we kind of floundered at the end of last year. We had a big injury to Amanda Boccio, who was our senior captain and is now running at Ithaca [College]. Last year, we did not have enough depth."

Banged up Birds beat soccer rivals

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — The Voorheesville boys’ soccer team was all banged up as it headed into a big contest with rival Albany Academy last Thursday.

The Blackbirds came away with a 2-1 win that kept them alive for the Colonial Council title heading into the final week of the season.

However, Schalmont clinched the league championship on Monday with a win over Ravena. Voorheesville remained in second with a 1-0 win over Lansingburgh.

The Birds hosted Schalmont on Wednesday to wrap up the regular season.

The win improved the Blackbirds’ standings to 13-2-1 overall this season and 10-2-1 in the Colonial Council. The Birds also won, 1-0, in a non-league game against Ichabod Crane on Saturday.

"We are down a lot of players," said Voorheesville Coach Mike Young. "We have some injuries and players being out. We had to bring up a sophomore and a freshman from varsity."

"Defense held tight"

Against Academy last Thursday, Voorheesville struck first.

Joe Klembczyk scored on a hard shot that stayed on the ground and found the lower corner of the goal with 24:36 left in the first half.

Albany Academy countered about five minutes later.

Chris Paratore scored after Voorheesville couldn’t clear the ball. Paratore was assisted by Denzel Ogunyase.

The Blackbirds got the lead goal with 34:40 left in the second half.

Shane Hiller scored his first varsity goal and it was a big one. It ended up being the game-winner; Voorheesville held off the Cadets as they marched down the field and had some good quality scoring chances.

Some poor shooting by the Cadets, good defense by Blackbirds, and goaltending by Lee Fenner enabled Voorheesville to hang onto the lead.

"Our defense held tight," Young said. "Academy was down big guys. Randy Taylor was out. But they had Denzel and Chris Paratore. Sometimes, we were putting two, three, and four guys at them. We knew how dangerous they are. We stopped them and it worked for us."

Young players

The win was impressive since Young had to put together a patchwork line-up of younger kids.

"We’re down to 16 guys," Young said. "We’re used to playing like that, 12 to 15 minutes hard. It’ll probably be like that for the rest of the season."

Young called up sophomore Will Miranda and freshman Zac Keller to the varsity.

"We’re down six players," Young said. "I was looking to bring anybody up to play hard. Keller plays like an animal."

Young has gotten good play out of all the young members of on his team.

"We have a lot of players with inexperience at this level," Young said. "We have seven sophomores and one freshman out of 16 players. But they play scrappy and play tight in the back."

The Blackbirds had a couple of bad games in their losses to Cobleskill and Schalmont.

"We had a couple of hiccups," Young said. "Schalmont’s good and Cobleskill at home is a different team. They upped their game and came at us. They got a goal and beat us. But this team has rebounded from that, like good teams do."

The Blackbirds have lost some offensive firepower in senior Rob Diblasi and junior Kevin Van Der Wende. Also missing from the Academy game were Dominic Venditti, Matt Miller, and Chris Thompson. Venditti and Miller are two of the top scorers for the Blackbirds.

"Rob is out for the year and Kevin is out for the year," Young said. "But we should have the other four or five back by the Schalmont game and climb back to full strength. Others contributed, but it’s important to keep everybody healthy. It’s hard here because sometimes you’re playing three or four games a week. Luckily for us, the last two weeks we’ve only had two games a week."

Blackbirds find horrors in Canajoharie

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — It was a Friday the 13th trip to Canajoharie for the Voorheesville Blackbirds. And it turned into a house of horrors.

The Voorheesville football team was doomed by a lack of offensive productivity and a couple of questionable calls that led to a 12-7 defeat, giving the Class C Southern Division title to the Cougars.

The Blackbirds finished the regular season with a 5-2 record and sneaked into a playoff spot. Voorheesville is the eighth — and last seed — and will travel to Stillwater on Saturday.

"We never got into a consistent offensive game," said Voorheesville Coach Joe Sapienza after Friday’s contest. "I think in the long run, the defense had to do too much. They are a very good team, and you can’t leave your defense on the field that long without them popping it."

The Blackbirds committed three turnovers — two fumbles and one interception — in the contest. They also recovered their own fumbles a couple of times but they were forced to punt.

The Blackbirds took a one-point lead, 7-6, late in the first quarter and held that lead until the fourth quarter.

The Blackbirds punted late in the third quarter — one down was wasted on a fumbled snap — and Canajoharie got the ball at the 40-yard line.

The Cougars marched down the field behind the arm of quarterback Clinton Billtucci and the running of Chris Shineman.

Canajoharie also got a lucky break. A pass from Billtucci thrown to Dan Amato looked to bounce as Amato dived to make the catch. The play was called by the officials as a good catch and the Cougars got a key first down on the Voorheesville 15-yard line. The play picked up 17 yards.

Two plays later, Shineman ran the ball in for a touchdown. The two-point conversion pass was broken up by Voorheesville’s Jordan Murphy and Canajoharie led by five points, 12-7.

But Voorheesville had to punt on its next possession and couldn’t get back into the contest as Canajoharie ran out the clock.

"We had to roll the dice a little more," said Sapienza of his defense. "And they were able to get that tight end pop pass. We were stunting our linebacker because we were desperate for time. They made good plays. They called them and executed them."

Physical game

The Blackbirds got on the scoreboard late in the first quarter. They were trailing, 6-0, but responded on the their next possession.

Pat Jones returned the kick-off to the 33-yard line and benefited from a personal foul penalty by Canajoharie as he was hit late, out of bounds.

The ball was moved to the 49-yard line and the quarterback completed a pass to Tim Robinson for a 16-yard gain.

Jones picked up seven yards and one yard on back-to-back runs. Duncan picked up three yards for a first down and the Blackbirds had the ball on the Canajoharie 24-yard line.

A five-yard penalty put the ball on the 19-yard line. After two incomplete passes, Conde connected with Robinson for a 19-yard touchdown pass.

Robinson caught a short pass and eluded defenders, finally diving for the end zone to finish off a strong effort to get six points for the Birds.

Cameron Taylor kicked the extra point to give the Blackbirds a lead they would hold for two quarters.

Billtucci hit Keith Shults for a 13-yard touchdown pass to give the Cougars a 6-0 lead in the first quarter.

There was a controversial play in the second quarter that might have cost the Blackbirds some points.

The Birds just got the ball back after stopping Canajoharie with their backs to the goal line. Sam Pelham and Charlie McGrail had back-to-back sacks that ended a Canajoharie drive.

Voorheesville got the ball on its own 32-yard line and was moving the ball. Jones ran with the ball and picked up nine yards and was tackled. The ball came loose and it was ruled a fumble even though Jones had been on the ground and also out of bounds — which would have ended the play — before the ball was fumbled.

Canajoharie recovered the ball and ended the Blackbirds’ momentum.

After that, the Blackbirds struggled to move the ball and Jones, who came into the game as the second-leading rusher in Section II, was held to 45 yards on Friday. Adam Duncan did rush for 85 yards on 12 carries, but fumbled on one play.

Conde passed for 77 yards on six completions and threw a touchdown pass. He also threw an interception. Robinson was his leading receiver with four catches for 57 yards.

Pelham had a big day on defense with three sacks.

"They were using three different defensive fronts," Sapienza said. "And that threw us off, I believe, a little bit. They rolled the dice on defense. They couldn’t stop our offense unless they had five or six men up. Toe-to-toe, they couldn’t stop us. They were physical and we were physical."

The loss was the second for the Blackbirds this season. The Birds also lost to Chatham in September. Both games were close contests.

"We’ve had two losses that could have gone either way," Sapienza said. "We have two losses against two teams in the top four. I still feel we’re an upper-echelon team."

Before Sapienza found out whether his team would be playing in the playoffs this weekend, he was confident his team earned a spot there.

"I’m pretty sure we’ll be there," Sapienza said. "We beat Schuylerville and they are the third place team in the North [Division]. We’ll be seven or eight. We’ll have a game on the road, but it’s been like that all year."

The Blackbirds are the eighth seed and will travel to Saratoga County for a 2 p.m. kick-off with Stillwater, the Central Division champions. The Warriors finished the season, 5-1, and their only loss was to rival Mechanicville. Every other team besides Voorheesville and Schuylerville in the Class C playoffs has just one loss.

"We’re prepared to put forth our best effort," Sapienza said. "The kids are not ready for the season to be over."

Blackbird netters queens of Class B court, again

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — For the third year in a row, players on the Voorheesville girls’ tennis team have been the queens of the court in Class B.

The Lady Blackbirds won all seven matches to beat Cobleskill for the title.

"We lost one starter from the year before," said Voorheesville Coach Tom Kurkjian. "A three-peat was something that we felt we could do. It depends on if any of the other schools get an exchange student. We thought it was possible but you still got to win it. One or two are possible but then you usually don’t have enough people left, especially at a small school."

Voorheesville lost Courtney Clark to graduation. Clark was on the team for one year after transferring from a school in Cortland.

Also the Blackbirds’ line-up was moved around after number-two singles player Allie McArdle missed the last part of the season with mononucleosis. But Kurkjian was able to fill the spot easily.

Lexi Burtman stayed at the number-one spot and won her match, 6-3, 7-5. Jackie Daley moved up to the number-two slot and won her match 6-3, 7-5.

Laura Watson moved up to number three and won her match, 6-7, 6-2, 6-2. Alex Childs continued the Birds success with a 6-0, 6-3 win.

Nazely Kurkjian, the coach’s daughter who usually plays doubles, was the fifth singles player and won her match, 6-4, 6-2.

"She won at number-five when we played Holy Names the year before," Coach Kurjian said.

Jackie Ransbury teamed with Laura Glasser in the sectionals; they won their final match 7-6, 6-2. Ciatta Jannasari and Nell Pritchard won their doubles match, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Last year, the Blackbirds beat Cobleskill, 6-1, in a surprising outcome.

"Actually, the first year we won," Kurkjian said, "was our first in the B’s. There was a little anxiety facing a new mix of teams. The second year, last year, it was a surprise because our traditional rival, Chatham, was upset by Cobleskill."

Going for a fourth title will be difficult. McArdle, Watson, Childs, Glasser, and Ransbury will be graduating.

But Kurkjian sees enough talent to be a competitive team next year.

Burtman and Nazely Kurkjian return along with Jannasari, Pritchard, and Daley.

There are also some younger team members who are good players. Sophomores Brittany Albright and Fannie Liu has shown improvement and played a bit this season.

"We should have a representative team," Kurkjian said. "But you never know what anyone else has."

There are a group of girls who have potential, though they didn’t play much on varsity this year: sophomores Laura Norman and Leah Simpson; ninth-grader Kathleen McArdle, middle schoolers Armine Kurkjian, also the coach’s daughter; Moira O’Donnell; and Christina Ransbury.

"Some of them are advanced, some are in the middle, and some just started," Kurkjian said.

Still playing

The season is not over for a few of the players.

Burtman and Daley will be competing in the singles part of the individual sectionals. McArdle and Watson will be playing as a doubles team as will Nazely Kurkjian and Jackie Ransbury.

Coach Kurkjian said that he is proud of the sectional titles, but there is one goal that the team set that it didn’t accomplish — winning the Colonial Council.

"Our goal is to topple Holy Names," Kurkjian said. "We couldn’t do it this year. They have kind of turned the corner on tennis. I’ve been coaching the boys for a long time and they remind me of Albany Academy. They are a big challenge. I would love to get another league title or at least a share. We have a lot of 10th-graders, but, hopefully, we can get them. That is what our goal has always been. But it is tough to compete against private schools in certain areas and tennis is one of them.

"But the girls have a lot to be proud of," Kurkjian added. "Not many schools win three sectional titles or more. Winning three in this area is not easily accomplished. But the seniors are not happy they couldn’t topple Holy Names. But winning three sectional titles is nothing to be ashamed of."

Birds flying high in cross-country

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — It’s been another successful year for the Voorheesville cross-country teams.

The boys’ team won the Colonial Council regular season championship and the girls’ team finished second in the league behind powerhouse Holy Names.

"We’re stronger this year than last year," said Voorheesville coach Kelly McHale. "The boys won the Colonial Council but we have the championship race on Tuesday. The boys went undefeated and the girls only lost to Holy Names. They finished better in the Colonial Council than last year. We also lost to Cohoes."

The league meet will be held at Saratoga State Park on Tuesday. The Blackbirds just competed in the Burnt Hills Invitational on Saturday at that site and the boys’ team won and the girls were second in their tough division.

"This was our second time at Saratoga," McHale said. "Last week, we did really well. We got up there and we were scheduled to run in the Division I race. But we asked to be moved up to Division II and they did. It was nice competition. Sectionals are up there again."

The season has gone smoothly for the Blackbird teams this year. They’ve had just one injury, to Alison Vogelien.

"She had an injury from track and it’s come back in the middle of this season," McHale said. "But she’s back now and it makes the team even stronger."

The Birds continue to be led by Mackey Lloyd on the boys’ side and Hilary Edmunds on the girls’ side. But McHale said a bunch of other runners have contributed all season.

"Chantel Little and Grace Giampaglia have stepped up pretty well," McHale said. "And on the boys’ team we have a battle for the two through five spots with Ryan Allison, Nathan Bub, Conor Cashian, and Ian Powell. It’s made them a lot stronger and everyone a lot faster."

The boys’ team beat Fonda-Fultonville at the Burnt Hills Invitational on Saturday and the rivals will see each other at the sectional meet in early November.

"They are now gunning for us," McHale said. "It’s a great accomplishment for us. They beat us at the first two meets — at Fonda and Blackbird [Invitational] by four points. We lost to them in sectionals last year. They’re the big one and they are very strong. But we have the ability to pull something out. This is the best season I’ve seen in awhile. We’ll do some things on November 3."

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