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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 7, 2007

Dutch sail to first title since ’77

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — It had been a long time since the Dutchmen baseball team had sailed into these waters. And the adventure almost kept going.

The Flying Dutchmen nine won the school’s first baseball sectional title in 30 years with a 5-2 win over Troy at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy and made it to the state regional. The Dutchmen were a couple of plays from the state semifinal, but lost a heartbreaker to Proctor High School of Utica, 6-5, at DeLutis Field in Rome.

If sophomore Steve Anderson’s hard-hit ground ball was a few inches further away from the Proctor shortstop, the Dutch’s amazing comeback attempt would have continued.

But baseball is a ruthless game. After teasing the Guilderland squad with an inning filled with runs and hard hits, probably the hardest is nothing more than a groundout.

"We fought to the end," said a dejected Ben Henderson after playing his last game as a Dutchman. "I’m proud of these guys. We battled to the end."

"I felt we had a chance," said Guilderland Coach Doug LaValley. "I never felt we were out of the game. We had lightning in a bottle and we were just looking to strike."

After not only getting shut out for four innings but also no-hit, the Dutch bats finally came alive in the fifth inning. Guilderland scratched for one run in the frame and got two more in the sixth and two more in the seventh before Proctor escaped with the win.

"We just needed a hit"

Proctor held a 4-0 lead after four innings before junior pinch-hitter Josh Lochner broke up A.J. Bates’s no-hit bid with a double to center field. Nick Ranalli then singled to drive in Lochner and put the Dutchmen on the scoreboard.

However, Proctor struck back for two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Clean-up hitter Mike Mason blasted a two-run home run to give the Raiders two very big insurance runs.

Guilderland scored two runs in the top half of the sixth inning.

Henderson led off the inning with a double and pinch runner Ivan Plata moved to third base on a wild pitch. Plata scored easily on Andrew Simpson’s double to left field that looked like it was going to clear the tall fence but hit off it instead.

Anderson then doubled to right field to drive in Simpson.

Senior pitcher Greg Barcomb relieved starter C.J. Sohl and had an impressive inning on the mound with two strikeouts and a fly ball.

With one out in the top half of the seventh inning, Mike Goldstein doubled to left field and reached third on Nick Polsinelli’s single. After a pop out by Henderson, junior Jake Colavito singled on a hard hit ball that bounced over the shortstop, Rafael Cordero, and into shallow left field. Goldstein scored on the hit to make the score, 6-4.

Simpson then singled to left field, which brought Polsinelli home.

Next stepped up Anderson. He ripped a two ball-two strike pitch right at Cordero who fielded the ball on a hop and made the short throw to second base, forcing out Simpson at second to end the ball game.

"We started hitting in the last three innings," Henderson said. "I wish we were hitting in the first three innings. I always get that feeling that we’re going to win. Steve has been great for us all year. We just needed to get a hit here or a hit there."

Making history

If Tuesday’s loss was disappointing, Friday night’s win was equally as joyous.

The Dutchmen took the field as the top team in Section II and left it with the hardware they’ve wanted all year.

But it didn’t come without any obstacles. Colavito, the team’s number-four hitter was injured before the game when he was hit in the eye with the ball during warm-ups. He was taken to the hospital. He did return during the sixth inning, but did not get into the game.

Simpson moved up a slot in the line-up and took over the clean-up hitter’s role. His three-run home run gave the Dutchmen the lead in the third inning and ace pitcher Polsinelli didn’t let Troy get back into the game.

"We knew we had to score to win," Polsinelli said after Friday’s game. "Scoring two runs on us is nothing. We can score a lot of runs. I kept thinking that to myself. It’s exciting what happened."

Polsinelli had been bothered by a sore elbow and struggled in the team’s quarterfinal game on May 26. But the Suburban Council’s best player was sharp on Friday.

"The Suburban Council Player of the Year does what he is supposed to do," LaValley said on Friday. "We’re sectional champs for the first time in 30 years We got it done. Nick came up big time."

Troy took the lead, 1-0, in the first inning and led, 2-0, after the top half of the third inning. Troy had upset three teams to reach the final and did it without its coach, Jack Brady, who was with his son in the hospital. His son was severely burned in a camping accident before the sectionals began.

"It’s a great story, playing for their coach," LaValley said. "That says a lot about what they think of him. But I told my guys, ‘You worked hard and you should play for yourselves.’"

Goldstein led off the bottom of the third inning with a walk but was forced out at second base on a ground ball hit by Polsinelli. Henderson then singled and Simpson followed and smoked a home run that easily cleared the left field fence and gave the Dutch a 3-1 lead.

"He picked a big time to hit his first homer of the year," LaValley said. "He moved up a spot when Jake got hurt. He likes the clean-up spot."

Anderson walked and scored an RBI double by Jimmy Sabbag.

Guilderland added a run in the sixth inning. Sabbag scored after walking and later scored on Goldstein’s RBI single.

Polsinelli was amazing on the mound. He struck out 13 Troy hitters and gave up just five hits, walking two batters and hitting another.

"When we scored that first run, that was a big thing," LaValley said. "I knew that would give Nick more confidence. He’s a gamer."

"This feels unbelievable," Polsinelli said. "This is the best feeling in my life. The school hadn’t done this in 30 years.

"This was the biggest game of my life," he added. "Before the game today, I went into the gym and saw the banner hanging that said 1977. And I said to myself, ‘We are going to get a championship tonight.’"

Season’s end

Some of the players will be moving on to college careers. Henderson will play at Division I Jacksonville University in Florida. Polsinelli will pitch for The College of Saint Rose, a Division II school. Barcomb, who was tough on the mound, will play Division III football at the State University of New York College at Cortland.

A number of the underclassmen are also college prospects.

This season ended sooner than anyone on the Guilderland team wanted, but it does not take away what they accomplished.

"Our main goal was winning Section II," Henderson said. "I’m going to miss playing with these guys. It was a lot of fun.

"It was a great feeling the whole year," he added. "We worked hard and we got it done on the field. We were one pitch away from the state finals. Everyone played hard and stuck together as a team. And that is the way Guilderland baseball should be."

Heart and desire not enough for Dutchmen

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The third time was not the charm for the Guilderland boys’ lacrosse team.

For the third year in a row, the Dutchmen faced rival Niskayuna for the Class A Section II lacrosse title and for the third year in a row, the Dutch came home with the runner-up plaque.

It was also the third time this season that the Dutch and Silver Warriors crossed sticks, with Niskayuna coming away with a 11-9 win in the most important meeting, on Friday. The teams split during the regular season.

"I told my team at the end of the game that I had never been part of a team that played with more intensity, heart, and desire than they did that night," said Guilderland Coach Sean McConaghy.

An up and down first half

The Dutchmen jumped out to a quick lead in the game only to watch it disappear in the second quarter.

Senior Uriah Myrie scored back-to-back goals to give the Dutchmen a 2-0 lead within the first three minutes of the game.

Myrie was assisted by classmate Chris Conway on the first goal with 9:55 left in the opening period. Myrie’s second goal of the contest was an unassisted goal with 9:21 to go in the first frame.

Sophomore Rory Nunamacher made the score 3-0 on an unassisted goal with 5:27 left in the first quarter.

But Niskayuna scored three unanswered goals of its own to tie the game at the end of the first quarter, 3-3.

The Silver Warriors dominated the second quarter. They outscored the Dutchmen, 6-2, in the stanza and took a 9-5 lead at halftime.

"The first quarter was great," McConaghy said. "We had a lot of intensity throughout all of the pre-game. They were at a level they’ve never shown since I coached any of them.

"Then in the second quarter," McConaghy added, "we were throwing the ball away and then we were down 9-5. It isn’t a great situation to be in against Niskayuna."

Nunamacher scored both goals in the second quarter for the Dutchmen.

"We fought to the end"

The Dutchmen put together a valiant effort in the second half of the contest, outscoring the Silver Warriors, 4-2. But they couldn’t catch up in the last 24 minutes of play.

"We fought to end," McConaghy said. "It could have been a 16-5 game. We had our chances at the end."

Nunamacher ended the game with six goals. Myrie had two goals and one assist to aid the Dutchmen. Senior Matt Stillman also scored for the Dutch.

Juniors Quinn Connell and Aaron Cahill each had an assist as did senior Chris Conway.

"When we fell behind," McConaghy said, "we could’ve been, ‘Here we go again, another sectional final, we are going to get crushed by Niskayuna.’ The seniors said that they are not going to let that happen. They said, ‘Tonight we are going to make a game of it.’ And they sure did."

Junior Nick Koss made 11 saves in goal for the Dutchmen, who outscored Niskayuna, 3-0, in the final quarter.

"They made the high school proud"

The loss ends the high-school careers for eight Guilderland seniors. Myrie, Stillman, and Conway will graduate as will defenders Scott Raffensperger, and Kyle Klapp, goalie Nick Stefani, and midfielders Jordan Dubose and Greg Murphy.

Raffensperger and Dubose will play at the University at Albany next year.

"We will miss those guys," McConaghy said. "Especially Scott and Jordan. They’ve been with us since [assistant Coach Kris] Bremmer and I took over the varsity, and all the ups and downs in between."

The Guilderland team will have a good group of underclassmen returning.

"We had four sophomores and a freshman get a taste of it," McConaghy said of the finals’ trip. All the juniors and sophomores were new, except for Cahill. I’ve been pressing them all year long to play for a moment like Friday."

The underclassmen are a product of a successful junior varsity team. And there will be help on the way.

"The last three years, the junior varsity has lost a total of four or five games," McConaghy said. "I know this year they lost one and last year they lost one.

"If the j.v. guys do their job and we do our job, it makes things easier," McConaghy added.

The key to the Dutchmen’s success is having players step into different roles.

"We need for guys to step up each year to be stars and to fill roles," McConaghy said. "Guys like Kyle Klapp and Chris Conway that don’t get a lot of attention, have to play hard. They have a huge role on the team."

All of this year’s seniors will move on to colleges and have shown strong character over the years.

"It might sound like a cliché, but, during the banquet, I kept saying that he is a nice kid," McConaghy said. "This is a great group of kids on and off the field.

"It is fun to work with a bunch of kids like that," the coach added. "They make their parents proud, Guilderland lacrosse proud, and the high school proud."

First title a treat for Dutch laxwomen

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — When the lights are shining brightest, the Lady Dutch are at there best.

They were again Thursday night, and they made a little history, too.

The Guilderland girls’ lacrosse team won its first Section II title with a 9-7 victory over Shaker at the University at Albany. The Lady Dutch are the first team not from Saratoga or Bethlehem to win the sectional title in Class A girls’ lacrosse.

"I’m speechless right now," said senior Co-Captain Nikki Branchini. "I can’t believe it. But we worked so hard for this."

The season came to an end for the Lady Dutch on Sunday afternoon as they lost in their state quarterfinal contest, 12-7, to Lakeland of Section I.

But the lights shone on Thursday night for the Lady Dutch as the four seniors on the team were handed the plaque and raised it above their heads in triumph. The Dutch players were not just happy with the win, but relieved to have survived a contest against a tough Shaker team.

"We knew it would be a tough game," Julie Malkowski, one of the team’s seniors said.

"Especially after last time," Branchini added.

Last time the Lady Dutch and the Blue Bison got together, it took five overtimes for the game to be decided, resulting in a Guilderland win.

"We left it all on the field tonight," Lynn Tran, another senior captain, said of Thursday’s win.

Tough start

Guilderland fell behind, 2-0, in the span of a minute. After five minutes of scoreless play, Shaker got a goal from Abigail Rehfuss at the 19:43 mark. About 30 seconds later, Kat Thomas gave the Blue Bison a two-goal lead.

But, after Guilderland Coach Gary Chatnik made an adjustment, the Lady Dutch got their first goal of the game.

"We were rushing our plays," the coach said. "When we run our offense, our plays give us a half-dozen options. What we were doing is just going to option one. We were not keeping the ball in our sticks early on. So I moved Nikki back on offense and she ran plays.

"She is a senior and has played for sectional championships in field hockey and basketball," Chatnik said of Branchini. "She made a pass to Chelsea [Newman] and she nailed it. That was a big goal."

"We got off to a slow start," Branchini said. "Then we got the momentum."

That was the first goal of the contest for the Lady Dutch and Branchini’s pass to a cutting Newman showed her play-making ability.

Newman, a freshman, finished off the pass and Guilderland cut the lead in half with 18:23 left in the first half.

The Dutch evened the game with 11:38 left in the half. Sophomore Jen Madsen tallied on an unassisted goal to make the score 2-2.

Guilderland dominated play for the rest of the half, scoring four times to hold a 6-2 lead at the intermission.

Sophomore Danielle Tetreault scored to give the Lady Dutch the lead with 5:45. She converted on a one-on-one with the goalie for an easy goal.

Newman scored her second goal of the contest with 4:16 left in the half. She drove to the goal, beat a defender, and fired a high shot past the Shaker goalie.

Tetreault scored for the second time this time off an assist from Abbey Fashouer. Tetreault tallied again with 1:47 left until halftime. Madsen assisted on the goal that put the Lady Dutch up 6-2.

Kaye makes the big saves

Shaker started off the second half strong and had two great shots from Rehfuss that were stopped by even more incredible saves from Guilderland goalie Jen Kaye.

Tetreault scored her fourth goal of the contest just two-and-a-half minutes into the 25-minute half. She was assisted on the goal by Courtney Davis.

But Shaker struck back for three unanswered goals — two from Thomas and one by Caroline Rehfuss.

With the score 7-5 and with 16:56 left in the contest, Fashouer scored on a free position after a Shaker foul.

Again the momentum swung in Guilderland’s favor, and Tetreault scored her fifth — and final — goal of the contest. Her unassisted tally came with 10:38 to go in the game.

The goal gave the Dutch a four-goal lead, 9-5.

But the Blue Bison did not go down without a fight.

Thomas scored again for Shaker with 10:04 left in the game and Emma Risler scored the final goal of the contest with 6:39 left.

Shaker continued to pressure the goal in the final minutes but Kaye made some big and spectacular saves to keep the Lady Dutch’s lead safe.

And as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Dutch players all converged on their savior and celebrated the team’s first-ever championship.

Kaye made seven saves in the contest and Shaker goalie Clare Littlefield made five stops.

"They have some players that can put the ball into the net," Kaye said of Shaker. "I was seeing the ball really well. I was seeing it all the way and I was able to stop it."

"Part of that was their shot selection," Branchini said. "They did not shoot to her stick."

"Especially at the end when she makes saves," Malkowski said. "It really pumps us up. She makes a good save and we’re able to clear it."

"We know that we are going to give up goals," Chatnik said. "But we ask our goalies to make the big save. And Jen made big save after big save. She was outstanding."

Kaye got help from her experienced defense that included Malkowski, Tran, and most of the time Branchini.

"We played really well tonight," Kaye said last Thursday. "We controlled their top players. We were able to shut them off. They were not dominating."

"We made the defensive plays," Chatnik said. "But we got testy with the ball throughout the game."

"No regrets"

This trip to the finals for the Lady Dutch was the second in three years. They lost in the title game to Bethlehem in 2005. The win last Thursday is a bit of redemption for a semifinal loss to Shenendehowa last year.

"We really wanted this," Kaye said. "Especially after the loss in last year’s semifinals. That drove me and the three other seniors, and the other players really embraced it. We did not want that to happen again."

But the Lady Dutch also had another motto heading into the championship game.

"Our athletic director [Wayne Bertrand] told to have no regrets," Branchini said.

"It inspired us," Malkowski added.

The sectional title is a perfect cap for the Lady Dutch, who hadn’t lost a game since April 20. It was an impressive 12-game winning streak that had its tough moments.

"I thought at the beginning of the year we had the talent to win," Chatnik said. "We were young but we were growing each game. And we had that win against Shaker in five overtimes and Meera [Chappidi] scored. That was probably the biggest goal of the year. Since then we have really taken off."

Dutch duo on the fast track to states

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND —In a repeat of last season, the two shining stars of the Guilderland track team will get to shine brighter at the state meet this weekend.

Seniors Brian Rhodes-Devey and Mark Domaracki will be competing at the state meet that will be held this Friday and Saturday in Kingston.

Both runners competed in the state meet last year as juniors.

"I wanted, first of all, to qualify," Domarcki said of his approach at the state qualifier meet. "I didn’t run as fast as I can. But I had a lot left. I want to improve on Friday."

Domaracki ran a 49.19 in the 400-meter run at the state qualifier last Thursday in Johnstown.

Rhodes-Devey ran the 800-meter and the 1,600-meter runs at the state qualifier. He ran the 800 on Thursday and the 1,600 on Friday.

"I ran real well," he said. "I was looking to qualify, I just needed to get into the top two. But with two laps left I was nervous; I got into a situation where I didn’t want to get out-kicked at the end and not make the state meet. I pushed it a little more than I would have liked."

That was the 800-meter race, which he won in 1:54.07.

Rhodes-Devey also won the 1,600 in a time 4:11.23. He then gave up his state spot in that event to focus just on the 800.

"It was just one last shot at the sectional record," he said of the 1,600. "I went out in 2:01 but that threw things off. Four-11 is still pretty good."

Relay record

Domaracki and Rhodes-Devey could be running another race at the state meet. The 4x400-meter relay team qualified for the state meet. But the runners — including juniors David Slingerland and Jeff Geisendorfer — and the coaches decided to let Domaracki and Rhodes-Devey focus solely on their individual races.

The relay set a school record at the state qualifier with a time of 3:21.13. The record had been standing for 16 years.

"We knew going into that race that we weren’t going to states to allow Brian and I to focus on states," Domaracki said. "It was generous of them to give up that meet to allow us to focus."

"We planned this season that if we qualified it would be up to Mark and I if we wanted to run it," Rhodes-Devey said. "We went back and forth. We talked about it with our coaches and we decided we would be fresher for our races on Saturday. It is like a thank you for the hard work we’ve done for most of the season."

New race

For Rhodes-Devey, the 800 is a new race to be focusing on at this time of year. Last year, he went to the state meet in the 1,600 meters.

"I’ve been running the mile since I was in eighth grade," Rhodes-Devey said. "I wanted to switch it up a bit and run the 800. It’s been my goal all season.

"I put on some muscle," he added. "So it felt better. I’m looking forward to running the 800. It’ll be a good race."

Rhodes-Devey, who is the number-one seed in the event for the state meet, has a goal of running around 1:51.

"It depends on how much competition there is," he said. "I’m in really good shape so I can go under 1:51 if not get to 1:50."

"A friendly rivalry"

Domaracki qualified for the 400-meter race last year and ran it at the state meet. It has been his main focus for most of the season even though he has run other shorter distances.

His fastest time in the 400 came at last year’s state qualifier at 48.9 seconds. He thinks he can go faster and get his time down to 48.5.

"I’ve been running a lot of races," Domaracki said. "Being fresh really helped me. I was able to focus on one race at a time."

Domaracki has forged a rivalry with John Reilly of Niskayuna and both competitors have had success against each other. At the qualifier, Domaracki got the win.

"This time I got him," Domaracki said. "I was on the outside and normally the guy in the inside lane gets the win. It’s a friendly rivalry. It will be nice to run with him at states."

Domaracki had to overcome some nagging injuries from the basketball season and some sloppy weather in the early spring.

"I slowly built up my strength," Domaracki said. "It was mostly switching sports and training different muscle groups. It’s kind of nice that I’m starting to peak now. Hopefully, I can run my best race at states."

Domaracki is hoping to run a great time, around 47.9.

"I’ll run the race that presents itself," he said. "I definitely want to win. But there are lots of great runners in the state. We’ll see what happens."

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