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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 22, 2007


It’s a championship or bust for Dutch laxwomen

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland girls’ lacrosse team plans to build on its recent success and has one big goal in mind: Winning the Section II championship.

"It is something that we have talked about," said Guilderland Coach Gary Chatnick. "But we know we have to play every game as if it is the big game, and, if we do, we will put ourselves in position to win it."

Seven players return for the Lady Dutch who were ranked New York State’s 13th Class A team. Guilderland, at one point last season, was ranked second in the state.

"We have the talent to be better than last year’s team," Chatnick said. "Our young players have been playing quite a bit of lacrosse and are experienced beyond their years. Our returning players were all starters and have played in big games with success. We lost four key players from last year’s team in Kayla Best, Kaitlyn Vennard, Molly Daley, and Val Feldman. It will be hard to replace their leadership and all-star level of play, but I am confident that our players will step up."

Mighty midfield

The team will be led by senior captain midfielder Nikki Branchini.

"Nikki brings the competitive and winning attitude to our team," Chatnick said. "She has led her field hockey team and basketball team to the sectional finals this year and has earned a lacrosse scholarship to the University at Albany."

Last season, Branchini was named to the first team Suburban Council All-star Team after not playing for two years.

"It is quite a testament to her athletic ability to make such a splash in the league so quickly," Chatnick said. "We are counting on her to lead us this season."

Also returning to the midfield is sophomore Amanda Best.

"Last year, Amanda played mostly attack, but was at midfield as the season went on," Chatnick said. "She scored 21 goals as a freshman and was a starter. In many games, she played like an upperclassman and we are expecting many things from her this season."

Ninth-grader Chelsey Newman brings scoring power and stability to the midfield, Chatnick said.

"We will count on Chelsey to score and distribute the ball this season," he said. "She has an excellent stick, excellent field sense, and plays beyond her years. She will be a nice piece to the puzzle."

Bridget Daley will also be part of the rotation at midfield.

"Bridget is an excellent defensive player," Chatnick said. "But her offense in the pre-season has been very impressive. She goes to the goal well, sees the field well, and has good instincts."

Ninth-grader Kristen Cagino will also see time at midfield.

"Kristen will worked in slowly to the rotation," Chatnick said. "She is an excellent athlete, great instincts, and her stick work is coming along nicely. I see her getting quality time, especially as the season progresses."

Daunting defense

The defense will be led by senior captains Jen Kaye, Julie Malkowski, and Lynn Tran.

"The defense will be strong with Jen in goal along with Lynn and Julie out front," Chatnick said. "All three were starters last season and they have done everything a senior should do in pre-season. They are talented and they have pulled the team together as a unit. They will be able to help the younger defenders develop because they are so solid."

Kaye was a second-team all-star in goal last year.

"This year, I see great things for her and her play will increase our intensity," Chatnick said.

Tran was an all-star last season and an Academic All-American.

"She plays all over the field and may even run some midfield this year," Chatnick said." She has great speed, field awareness, and is very consistent. Lynn makes so many difficult plays look so easy because she is such an excellent athlete."

Malkowksi worked herself into a starting role last year, Chatnick said, and was the Dutch’s most improved player.

"She has excellent defensive skills and her stick is becoming excellent. Her defense is very solid and she makes very few mistakes. She is always there to help out and I see her being an all-star this year."

Lauren Cagino, a junior, will also start on defense.

"Lauren has worked harder in the off-season than anyone and it has shown," Chatnick said. "She will step right in and not miss a beat. Her stick is solid and her aggressiveness is there."

The other defensive position will be shared by sophomores Amy Branchini and Corrinne Chatnick.

"Amy and Corinne played in every summer and fall tournament that they could find and they are both three-sport athletes," Coach Chatnick said. "I see them splitting time at the fourth defensive position. Amy has excellent field awareness, good footwork, and a solid stick. Corinne is very aggressive, her stick is solid, and I like her anticipation of plays."

Junior Lauren Decker and sophomore Molly Barker will also see time at defense.

"They will both get&Mac185; quality time and they have shown a lot in pre-season," Chatnick said. "Laura is aggressive, has good footwork and a good stick. Molly has shown ability and I think she will be solid. Her reactions are good, her stick is solid, and her field sense is good."

Ninth-grader Amanda Santandrea will back up Kaye in goal.

"Amanda has a bright future ahead of her," Chatnick said. "But she is playing behind the top goalie in the area. She works hard and her skills get better each day. We are very confident with Amanda and she will get some time this year and she will learn a lot this season."

Aces on attack

Scoring goals should not be a problem this season, Chatnick said. The Dutch will get good scoring opportunities from the midfield and the attack.

Junior Abbey Fashouer returns to the attack after scoring 35 goals last season and being a second-team all-star.

"Abbey should have an excellent season," Chatnick said. "She made a strong statement last season, especially after she grew comfortable with her position. Abbey played a lot and well this summer. She gives 110 percent all the time and involves her teammates as demonstrated by the 17 assists she had last season."

Sophomore Danielle Tetreault returns to the varsity after scoring 19 goals as a freshman.

"Danielle had an excellent freshman year, and I see her scoring a lot this season," Chatnick said. "She has an excellent stick and plays with a great intensity. Danielle and Amanda Best began last season by splitting time, but they both started by mid-season. Tetreault will be a leader and go-to player this season."

Sophomores Courtney Davis and Jen Madsen will also start on attack this season.

"Courtney will be an integral part of the offense," Chatnick said. "She has a great stick and excellent field sense. This year, Courtney will be counted on to score and distribute the ball. She will fit right in. Jen will also be a major part of the offense. I like how she reads plays and reacts. Her stick is excellent and she will score a lot of goals this season."

Freshman Jenna Crupi and junior Meera Chappidi will back up the attack.

"Jenna has shown a lot of skill and athleticism early as a freshman," Chatnick said. "She has a good and excellent field sense. She will get quality time as the season progresses. Meera has been a pleasant surprise. She really improved this summer and has carried that to this season. Her stick is solid and, after we switched her to attack last season on j.v., her game really took off."

"Used to winning"

This year’s team has the athleticism, attitude, and skills to get over the top this season, Chatnick said. Many of his players can play multiple positions, with the midfielders and attack being interchangeable.

"We have many players that can score and they can make plays that can turn around a game," Chatnick said. "They work great together and their speed is second to none. The girls are also used to winning in lacrosse as well as their other sports. All of our players are multiple-sport athletes and the Guilderland girls’ teams have been runners-up this season in field hockey, gymnastics, and basketball. They have also have had strong years in cross-country and soccer. Hopefully, girls’ lacrosse will put the exclamation mark on the Guilderland sports programs with a championship this season."


Blackbirds in search of a Colonial Council three-peat

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — Players on the Voorheesville baseball team want to remain the top Birds in the Colonial Council.

That could be difficult for a team that lost a few key players from last season. Pete Lindner, Nick Duncan, Andy Catellier, and Jake Norris all graduated. The biggest vacancy is on the pitching mound.

The Blackbirds, though, will have a big team this year.

"We have 16 on the roster," said Voorheesville Coach Hank Czerwinski. "We have two on injured reserve. But it was the most kids that we’ve had. I had to cut some kids. It’s a good turnout for the program."

Czerwinski cut four players from the varsity team and said the junior varsity team is made up mostly of ninth-, eighth-, and seventh-graders and has 18 kids.

"The program looks good," Czerwinski said.

Diverse roster

Returning to pitch for the Blackbirds this season are senior R.J. Curreri and junior Jay Conde. The Voorheesville squad will have some experience returning in catcher Steve Cardinal and center fielder Justin Arico. Both are seniors.

Returning but making a move is junior Chris Massaroni. He will move from left field to shortstop this spring.

The others returning are Bryce Gray, Matt Henry, and Pino Ragonese.

Curreri, Ragonese, and Arico are the team’s captains.

Moving up to the varsity are Joe Berschwinger, Nick Blow, Jake Vandervort, Tom Pasquali, Brian Sorel, Donald Healy, Kevin Klembczyk, and Michael Snyder.

Berschwinger, Blow, Healy, and Snyder are sophomores. Snyder has never played high-school baseball.

Czerwinski hopes to have a full roster soon. Gray and Sorel have been hurt and limited in what they can do this pre-season.

"Bryce Gray got hurt last year in Ravena," Czerwinski said. "He had surgery on his knee. We expect him back in late April or May. He’s Mister Versatility. We missed him because he can play any position.

"Brian Sorel is hurt and we’re hopeful we can get him back," Czerwinski added. "We’re not sure when he will be eligible."

Czerwinski said he likes the way his team looks defensively.

"We should be strong up the middle," he said. "With Cardinal, Pasquali, and Massaroni. Our hitting focus will be with Cardinal, Arico, and Massaroni."

"Time in the gym"

But like every other baseball team in Section II this season, the Blackbirds are confined to holding practices in their gym.

"We’re doing time in the gym," Czerwinski said. "We’re hitting off the machine. I’m hopeful we get outside before our first game. We have two games against Cairo-Durham [March 27 and 29] but they will probably be a washout."

Being inside also makes it difficult to evaluate the team.

"It’s hard to determine what you got," Czerwinski said. "Everybody looks good in the gym. We’ve been taking ground balls and hitting in the gym. It gets monotonous. We’re going into our third week in the gym."

Once the snow melts, the Blackbirds do know that they will play their home games on campus. The past few years, they have had their home games at the town park field on Swift Road.

"Playing at the school field will be a big plus," Czerwinski said. "It was finished up last year. We should get an outfield fence, backstop, and a scoreboard."

There has been some community involvement with the team. Conditioning equipment the Birds are using inside was donated by Lee Masterson, a local chiropractor.

"He had a conditioning clinic for us last year," Czerwinski said. "He has been a big help."

Czerwinski and the other coaches at Voorheesville will be running a summer camp this year. The camp is open to Voorheesville students in grades four to nine.

"I think that will help generate interest in baseball," Czerwinski said. "It can build a foundation for future years."

Czerwinski doesn’t know what the other teams in the league look like this year.

"Lansingburgh was young last year," Czerwinski said, "and they were good last year. Mechanicville and Ravena will be tough. But we would like to three-peat. We’ve had two years in a row as Colonial Council champions.

"We have a decent amount of returning players," Czerwinski added. "We should be able to make another run at the Colonial Council."


Close is not good enough for Lady Blackbirds softball

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — The Blackbirds are looking to rise this season.

The Voorheesville softball team wants to overcome last year’s tough losses and put some more checkmarks in the win column this season.

The Lady Blackbirds finished with a 9-11 overall record last season and a lot of those losses were close.

"We want to rebound from a tough season," said Voorheesville Coach Matt Fiato. "We didn’t make sectionals. I thought we should have, but we lost a lot of one-run games, and that hurt us."

The Blackbirds lost four games by one run and lost six or seven by two or three runs, Fiato said.

To combat those close losses, Voorheesville will use the experience of eight returning players, seven of them seniors. The Birds will have a 14-player roster this spring.

"It’s nice to have seven seniors and eight returning players," Fiato said. "We still need to fill a couple of infield positions, but the outfield is pretty much secured."

The Blackbirds also have three juniors, two sophomores, and two ninth-graders on the roster.

Experience and new talent

Voorheesville will have the experience of Jenna Massaroni and Jillian Blair returning. Both are four-year varsity players. Sarah LaFave also returns and will be pitching for her second straight year. She was a back-up behind Cyrilla Suker her sophomore year.

Also returning are seniors Brittney Holcomb, Brittney Logan, Jackie Moreau, and Rebekah Coons. Junior Brittany Vogel is also returning.

"We’ll benefit from their experience," Fiato said. "We lost a lot of one-run and two-run games. We expect to turn those around into wins."

New to the team this spring are juniors Alli Bryant and Christine Abelseth, sophomores Alissa Hatch and Kate Chiseri, and freshmen Britney Creed and Kelsey DeZalia.

"We definitely have a lot of talent," Fiato said. "Our youth, ninth- and 10th-graders are good. And we have the experience with our returning players. I’m looking forward to the season."

Snowed in

The Lady Blackbirds have been playing gym ball and have not been able to get outside because of the snow. Last Friday’s snow storm didn’t help matters.

"We have a scrimmage scheduled for the 28th," Fiato said. "That’s probably not going to happen."

Besides wrecking the schedule, it makes it difficult for Fiato to see a lot of what his players can do and where the pieces fit; that’s another reason for the importance of experience.

"We don’t really have other problems besides the weather," Fiato said. "It was encouraging, but it was disappointing to get two feet of snow this weekend. But everybody is in the same boat. But our girls just want to play softball. They want to play some games."

Fiato knows that LaFave will be the starting pitcher for most of the games this season. But he also has another good pitcher in Alissa Hatch.

"She’ll pitch some innings this year," Fiato said. "And we have three catchers. That’s unheard of."

The starting catcher will be Blair. She has been behind the plate for the past four years. Massaroni might move from second base to third base this season, Fiato said. He hasn’t made a final decision. He also said first base and second base are up in the air.

Vogel returns to play shortstop this season and Holcomb will return in centerfield. The corner outfield spots weren’t filled yet.

"We’re looking for some of the seniors to step into those spots," Fiato said.

Fiato can’t wait to see his team on the field this spring.

"We do a lot of fielding drills, hitting drills and conditioning," the coach said. "We get into the batting cage every other day. But you are limited to what you can do. We are doing weight training. We get a group in there, and it gives us more room in the gym with a whole other group."

Fiato said that the softball program is good, even though there are fewer kids on the junior varsity team.

"They are a little low," he said. "It’s probably because I have 14 on the varsity. I have seven seniors and eight returning players; that’s why I kept them up. If I had three seniors, then I wouldn’t have to do that."

Though it doesn’t look like Voorheesville will be able to get in its first game against Guilderland on April 2, or its first Colonial Council league game on April 4, the Blackbirds will be ready when the season does start.

"We went over some of the goals for this year," Fiato said. "They are simple, but achievable. One of the common ones was to win the closer games. Another was to beat the better teams in the league. And they definitely want to make sectionals this year."


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