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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 28, 2006

Birds lose tough battle of unbeatens

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — Thursday night’s football game in Chatham was like a drama.

The game had emotional and physical ups and downs, a denouement, and a good finish that left you wanting more.

The Voorheesville Blackbirds traveled to the small Columbia County village for a battle of undefeated teams. Chatham held on for a 27-21 win.

"Chatham is one of the best teams in Class C," said Voorheesville Coach Joe Sapienza. "But by no means are we out of it."

The Blackbirds got off to a slow start and gave up 13 points before getting on the scoreboard at the end of the first quarter.

Voorheesville took the lead in the fourth quarter but lost it when Chatham scored two touchdowns in the final frame. But the Panthers had to hold on as Voorheesville scored, cutting the lead to six points. The Voorheesville drive was interrupted when a cheerleader collapsed.

The Blackbirds’ on-side kick attempt failed.

"A game like this came down to field position," Sapienza said. "It was a battle of field position. In the first half, they had it and, in the second half we had it."

Voorheesville took the lead with 10:47 left in the fourth quarter.

A bad punt by Chatham gave the Blackbirds the ball on the Panther 23-yard line.

It took the Birds one play to score as Pat Jones took a hand-off from quarterback Jay Conde and rushed down the left side to the end zone for the score.

The two-point conversion pass was ruled incomplete even though Tim Robinson attempted a difficult diving catch.

But Chatham came back with a touchdown to re-take the lead.

The Voorheesville defense had the Panthers pinned down in a fourth-down-and-long after a sack by Jeff Connors. But Chatham quarterback Zach Kraham completed a pass to Tucker Lancelin in the corner of the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown.

Lancelin scored on the two-point conversion to give the Panthers a 21-14 lead.

Chatham added six points with 2:57 left in the game. Again, Kraham and Lancelin hooked up for a touchdown pass to make the score 27-14.

"Competitive game"

Voorheesville made a gallant attempt to come back.

Jones returned the ensuing kick-off from his own nine-yard line to the Chatham 45.

The Blackbirds moved the ball as Conde picked up 15 yards on a run and completed a short pass to Jones for an 18-yard gain that put the ball on the Chatham 27-yard line.

The drive then was halted when the ambulance came to take care of a Voorheesville cheerleader who collapsed on the sideline. According to Voorheesville principal Mark Diefendorf, the girls’ parents told him that she is at home and is expected to make a return to school in the next couple of days.

The game resumed after about a 15-minute delay and the Birds got a break.

An interference penalty on a Chatham player during a pass play put the ball on the nine-yard line and gave the Blackbirds a first down.

Conde picked up eight yards on a run on the next play but got hit hard and left the game with a mild concussion.

Robinson took over at quarterback and handed off the ball to Jones who picked up the final yard for a touchdown. Matt Miller’s extra-point kick made it 27-21 with 1:11 left in the contest.

The Birds tried for an on-side kick, but it was recovered by Chatham and the Panthers were able to run out the clock and hold on to the victory in the hard-fought game.

"This was a competitive game," said Sapienza on Thursday night. "They made plays when they needed to make them. I give them all the credit. They did the job. You can’t come out and give them chances, especially against an offense that doesn’t have many weaknesses."

Taking chances

The Birds gave Chatham chances in the first half and that was the difference in the contest.

Chatham went up 7-0 in the first quarter after Voorheesville was forced to punt and the Panthers got the ball in good field position.

Kraham ran the ball in from two yards out to cap a seven-play drive.

Voorheesville fumbled on its next possession and the ball was recovered by Chatham at the Birds’ 22-yard line.

The Blackbirds’ defense did a good job and held the Panthers to just a field goal. Sean Kenny booted the ball from 33 yards to give Chatham a 10-0 lead.

Voorheesville fumbled again on its next possession and Chatham recovered it again, this time at the Voorheesville 36-yard line.

Again, the Blackbirds held the Panthers to a field goal, this one from 21 yards out and the Panthers led, 13-0, with 1:07 left in the first quarter.

"If we start the game different," Sapienza said. "It’s a different game. We were down 10-0 before we got settled in. But we battled. It’s impressive to watch these kids play."

The Birds came back and got a touchdown as the first quarter ended.

Conde hit Jordan Murphy with a great 51-yard pass — Murphy made a tough catch with a defender on him — for a touchdown with no time left on the clock in the first period. The extra point was no good but the score was 13-6.

Neither team scored again until Voorheesville got a safety in the third quarter.

Chatham fumbled a snap on a punt deep in its own territory. The punter, Lancelin, was tackled at the one-yard line.

Voorheesville got the ball on the doorstep to the end zone. But Conde fumbled the snap and Chatham recovered the ball on the one-yard line.

Voorheesville defense showed its toughness as it stopped Paul Morse in the end zone for the two-point safety. Steve Cardinal and Connors were credited with the tackle.

"Our defense produced points," Sapienza said. "What more from a unit can you ask for than that""

The game was a defensive struggle as neither team had great offensive possessions but both took advantage of mistakes and short field position.

Jones, who has rushed for 100 yards in the first three games of the year, ended Thursday’s contest with 39 yards.

Conde had the big game with 157 yards passing on 12 completions. Robinson made six catches for 58 yards and Chris Massaroni made three catches. Two of those catches were in the drive that got the Birds within one touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The loss is the first for the Birds this season and puts them in second place in the Southern Division of Class C. If Voorheesville wins its final three regular season games and Chatham does, too, the Birds will finish in second place but will clinch a play-off berth.

Sapienza doesn’t see that as a detriment for his team.

"I don’t think they will," he said of a possible letdown. "Our goal is to win a championship and we are committed to that. What I take from this game is that Chatham in week four is the best in Class C. But it was 27-21. We’ll get better."

Dutchmnen best Nisky, prepare for Saratoga showdown

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — A second-half surge by the Guilderland football team last Thursday kept the Dutch in contention for a division title and set up a big game for Friday.

The Dutchmen beat Niskayuna, 26-6, in a game moved up a day because of Rosh Hashanah. Next up for Guilderland will be a home date with Saratoga.

"It should be a good one," said Guilderland Coach Dan Penna. "We’re excited at the opportunity to play a great football team. I feel we have a strong football team."

The win over Niskayuna gives Guilderland a 3-1 record and a 2-0 mark in Division I of Class AA. Saratoga comes into Friday’s contest with the same 3-1 record.

But in order to set up the big match, the Dutch had to get by a pesky Nisky team.

"It was an important win for us," Penna said. "Going into the game, we knew Niskayuna was a dangerous 0-3 team. We knew they would be hungry for a win and it was an important divisional game."

The teams got off to a slow start in the first half but the Silver Warriors struck first.

"We started off with both teams feeling each other out," Penna said. "We came out sluggish and then we had a blown coverage for a touchdown. But breaking the game down, we contained their pass and held their quarterback to a 35 percent completion rate. I was really happy with secondary play."

The offense also got better as the game went along.

"The offensive line, in the second half, opened some holes," Penna said. "That allowed Drew Smith, Kevin Forbes, Paul Booker, and Josh Sawyer to make some plays. Sawyer, after the first hit, was getting four or five yards."

Penna also credited the play of Greg Barcomb at quarterback.

"Greg Barcomb made some great plays," the coach said. "And he had four or five dropped passes. We were not completing plays and we had eight or nine penalties that came in crucial situations. It was uncharacteristically undisciplined for us."


After falling behind 6-0 after a long pass play by Niskayuna, Guilderland got a big play of its own.

The Dutch took a 7-6 lead after Barcomb hit Nick Ranalli on a third down-and-11 play. Ranalli caught the ball and 83 yards later had a touchdown to tie the game.

Nick Zanotta’s extra-point kick gave the Dutch the lead.

"Greg put the ball where it needed to be," Penna said. "Nick made an over-the-shoulder catch and he’s a fast kid. Not too many people can catch him."

The Dutch came out in the second half with more momentum.

"We went shot for shot and both teams were hitting and missing," Penna said. "The defenses did enough to stop things happening. In the second half, we had more momentum."

Sawyer scored on a five-yard run with Zanotta connecting on the extra point to make the score 14-6. Smith added a 22-yard touchdown run and Forbes punched the ball in from one yard out for another score.

"We were getting our focus," Penna said. "We knew they would be a tough team. It was about who wanted it more. It was an important game to win. I was very happy with the way we responded in the face of adversity.

"We took advantage of Nisky’s mistakes," Penna added. "We made some great plays. We got great interceptions from Ranalli and Smith and our offense put the foot to the gas in the second half. We converted short fields and the telling point was at the end of the third quarter. We sustained a long drive that I felt we haven’t had in the last few weeks. We executed basic plays and that was one of the differences."

"Hunger to win"

The win was also important because it came after a loss to Columbia, where the Dutch didn’t play well at all.

"You never want to lose a football game," Penna said. "But you can turn a loss to a positive. We learned that if we don’t come out and execute we’re in trouble. The kids brought a competitive level to the game and a hunger to win. This is a fun group of kids to work with."

Penna hopes the momentum carries over into Friday night’s game in front of a homecoming crowd.

"The kids are excited to play," Penna said. "They are a great football team and program. Saratoga is loaded with exceptional skill players. They have two great running backs. One is being looked at by Division I colleges and the other has potential to be a strong college player. Their fullback is a tough blocker and their quarterback runs the veer, which is an option look, and executes it well.

"Their line is big and strong," Penna added. "It will be a test for us. We’ll find out where we are as a football team."

It is a test Penna feels his team is ready for.

"We’ve had good practices," the coach said. "They’ve been flying around. I’m proud of where the kids are. It’s a strong start. But at Saratoga they expect to be 3-1. The confidence level Saratoga brings is trouble to their opponents. They have great coaches and I have great respect for them. We want to try and progress to be in with the upper-tier teams. Saratoga is a team at the level where we want to be."

Dutch look to compete with best

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — After watching his soccer team lose on Monday afternoon, Guilderland soccer coach Mike Kinnally was still confident in his players.

Kinnally didn’t like everything he saw, but he liked enough to feel his team is just on the fringe of being considered among the Suburban Council elite.

The Dutchmen’s 2-1 loss to Niskayuna left Kinnally surprisingly upbeat.

"The last couple of years against the upper echelon teams," Kinnally said, "we’ve been getting closer, getting closer. Shenendehowa is the only team that I thought was better than us. We’ve played with everybody else right now."

The Dutchmen have a 5-3-1 record but have been in every game. The Dutch lost the only game they have been dominated in — by Shen — 1-0.

"We are not getting beat by the good teams 3-0 or 4-0," Kinnally said after Monday’s game. "Against Saratoga, we controlled play 70 percent of the time, Colonie was 60 to 70 to percent of the play, and today we controlled more than half. Shen controlled at least 75 percent against us, but, other than that, we’ve been there."

In Monday’s game, the Dutchmen were the victims of bad luck and defensive mistakes.

Guilderland held a 1-0 lead late in the first half when Niskayuna tied the game on a goal from Sean Fishel. The defense couldn’t clear the ball and Fishel got the ball and hit a shot that deflected off a Guilderland defender and bounced past goalie Uriah Myrie to even the game at one.

Nisky got the game-winning goal late in the second half. Scott Rodgers scored for the Silver Warriors.

Early lead

Sophomore Tony Campagnano scored for the Dutchmen in the first half. Frank Campagnano hit a great ball into the offensive box and Niskayuna goalie Luke Citriniti came out to play the ball. But Tony Campagnano re-directed it with his head after the ball took a high bounce. The ball went over the goalie and into the net to give the Dutch the early lead.

"Other teams are finishing our mistakes," Kinnally said. "We crushed the ball and their goalie made some great saves."

Citriniti made five saves for the Silver Warriors — including a great diving one in the first half on a shot by Frank Campagnano. Myrie made eight solid saves, but wasn’t tested by any difficult shots.

"We had an opportunity to beat them," Kinnally said. "Their goalie made two great saves off Frank. Even without those, we are in overtime, if we don’t score on ourselves.

"We’ve played six outstanding games," Kinnally said. "But four of the last five goals we’ve given up we made defensive mistakes on"Defensively we’re not deep. I feel this was two teams in the upper echelon in our league. We had offensive chances today. For 30 minutes in the first half, we controlled the play. We crushed the ball and one should have been automatic. But we lost and it was anybody’s game."

Fixing mistakes

The coach is confident the Dutch mistakes can be corrected.

But the mistakes aren’t anything that can’t be taken care of.

"We are not making any mistakes that can’t be fixed in practices," he said. "We’ve made bad choices at times."

The Dutchmen won their first three games this season — including a 1-0 win over Columbia.

Guilderland then lost to Shen, but tied Saratoga, 0-0, in a duel between goalies Warren Gross and Myrie.

The Dutchmen then beat Burnt Hills, 5-0, last week but lost to Colonie, 3-2, in overtime.

Guilderland bounced back with a 6-0 win over Schenectady High School of the Big 10 before losing on Monday.

"They’re used to winning," Kinnally said of Niskayuna. "We are not used to winning yet."

The Dutch have been "snake bitten" at times this season, Kinnally said. However, Kinnally feels his team can do some damage during the rest of the season and when the sectional playoffs come around.

"We are playing with the good teams," Kinnally said. "And the teams we know we’re better than, we’re killing them. We’re taking shots at the upper teams."

The Dutch may be able to compete with anybody.

"We’re waiting for mistakes to happen," he said. "But we’re not an average team. I think there are only two teams better than us, Shen and Bethlehem."

Lady Dutch up and down against Saratoga

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — Guilderland girls’ soccer coach Barb Newton had mixed emotions after Tuesday night’s game.

She was happy with the way her team played but she was disappointed that they gave up a 2-0 halftime lead to Saratoga and the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

"It’s disappointing," Newton said after the game. "I’m pleased in one aspect and disappointed in another. We had two goals and the potential to have four goals. We had opportunities in the first half. Both teams had wonderful opportunities.

"It’s frustrating," Newton added. "We couldn’t put the game away with a two-goal lead."

Sophomore Lauren Napoli put the Lady Dutch on the scoreboard seven minutes into the first half.

Hannah Rosen hit a great crossing pass in front of the goal. Napoli was able to run down the ball and tap it into the goal with a defender on her. Napoli banged into the goal post and ended up in the goal herself, along with the Saratoga defender, but was OK. It was Napoli’s first varsity goal.

Saratoga had chances to tie the game in the first half. The best came after Guilderland was called for a hand ball in the penalty area.

The Blue Streaks were awarded a penalty kick but Kelsey Whalen missed from the eight-yard mark in front of the goal. Whalen kicked the ball high and it hit the crossbar after Sarah Heller got a piece of the ball to deflect it.

Guilderland took its two-goal lead with 18:32 left in the half on a tally by Jackie DeLuise.

"Jackie worked hard on the front line," Newton said. "She is doing a lot for us on offense."


Saratoga came back in the second half. The Blue Streaks first tally came after a massive scrum in front of the goal put Guilderland’s goalie Julie Malkowski, who didn’t play in the first half, out of position. Saratoga’s Liz Boyer got her foot on the ball and put it into the goal for the score.

Boyer tied the game for the Blue Streaks with 29:07 left in the second half. She beat a defender on the left side and got the ball past Malkowski to even things at two goals apiece.

Saratoga continued to have the bulk of the play in the second half and had a golden opportunity to take the lead when it was awarded another penalty kick after a Guilderland foul in the penalty box.

Maria DeMatteo, the Blue Streaks best player and a future Division I college athlete, took the kick. Her kick went to the left but Malkowski made a diving save to preserve the tie.

The save breathed new life into the Lady Dutch but they couldn’t connect on a few scoring opportunities late in the half.

"We stopped two penalty kicks," Newton said. "Sarah Heller stopped the first one and Jule Malkowski stopped the other. Hannah Rosen played well in the midfield and Kaite Murdock has been stopping all the best forwards in the Suburban Council. Lynn Tran did solid defensive work."

Guilderland had great chances in the overtime periods but couldn’t connect for a goal.

We moved up and down the field," Newton said. "Toga has some big, strong girls that can shoot from 30 yards out. They weren’t as accurate as usual. I credit our defense for making them shoot from outside."

"Shaping up"

Newton was pessimistic when the season began due to new players’ lack of experience and injuries to the experienced players.

"This past week, we’ve started to improve our overall game," the coach said. "We still have things to work on to make us more successful. We need to go to the goal with more intensity."

The Lady Dutch have had some extra time to get more experience.

"This is our fourth overtime game in a week," Newton said. "We’ve played five games in six days. There hasn’t been a lot of rest time for them."

The Lady Dutch won 3-2 over Scotia on Monday, on Tran’s game-winning goal in the second overtime.

"I’m happy," Newton said. "Things are shaping up and working out a little better. And we’re getting healthier."

Newton added of one of her senior captains, "Devon Rosenberry will be coming back at the end of the week. And other girls are coming back to full strength."

Last Monday, the Dutch battled an unbeaten Columbia squad, losing 1-0 when the Blue Devils scored with two minutes remaining in the second overtime period.

Last Wednesday, they faced perennial power Niskayuna, which was unbeaten at 6-0-1. The Dutch earned a tie with the Silver Warriors.

Guilderland struck first when DeLuise knocked home the game’s first goal after receiving a pass by Danielle Tetreault. In the second half, Nisky evened the score but that was short lived when an alert DeLuise jumped on a poor goal kick by a Nisky defender and blasted her second goal into the net to give the Dutch a 2-1 lead.

Niskayuna rallied and, with five minutes remaining in regulation, once again tied the score at two apiece. Both teams were held scoreless in the overtime period.

On Friday, Guilderland jumped out to an early lead beating Colonie, 2-0. Hannah Rosen and DeLuise each scored a goal and were assisted by Danielle Burns and Tetreault respectively.

The Guilderland defense recorded its first shutout of the season led by Malkowski and defenders Lynn Tran, Francesca Pezze, Murdock, and Amanda Best.

The Lady Dutch are now 3-4-2 so far this season. To get more wins, Newton believes they have to put the ball in the back of the net more.

"We need to score more goals," she said. "We’ve given up more than we’ve scored. That’s been haunting us all season."

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