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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 27, 2008


For Lady Dutch a championship would be twice as nice

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland girls’ varsity lacrosse team has high hopes for the 2008 season.

The reigning Section II Class A champions hope to repeat as champions and advance in the state tournament this season. There are some holes to fill from graduation, but Coach Gary Chatnik is optimistic.

“Last year was great,” he said. “We grew as a team as the season progressed and it ended with a championship. We had a young team with talent, but we were fortunate with great senior leadership. It will be hard to replace those seniors.”

Nikki Branchini, Lynn Tran, Julie Malkowski, and Jen Kaye all graduated last year.

Branchini was a first-team All-American and first-team Suburban Council all-star. Tran, Malkowski, and Kaye were first-team all-star defenders.

Team of leaders

“Their play was outstanding,” Chatnik said. “But what set them apart was how they were responsible and how they molded our young team together. We are looking to see who will lead this year, but so far it has been good because most of the team wants to lead. It is a great team to coach.”

There are just three seniors on this year’s Lady Dutch squad.

“We return eight starters and three players got quality time last year,” Chatnik said. “Every girl on the team played lacrosse last summer and fall. They have all improved and they have tasted success. They like it.”

Guilderland returns a lot of talented players, led by senior Captain Abbey Fashouer. The left-handed attacker had 46 goals and 17 assists and was a second team all-star last season.

“Abbey had an excellent year last year and is poised to have a great year this year,” Chatnik said. “She had a great summer and is ready to play. Abbey plays with the intensity that everyone should play with.”

Running with Fashouer is junior Danielle Tetreault, also a second-team all-star who led Guilderland in scoring last year as well as scoring five goals in the championship game.

“I think that the best lacrosse Danielle will play is yet to come. She had an outstanding sophomore year, but her game has improved so much since last year, she will be a force again this year.”

The strong attack also includes junior Courtney Davis.

“Courtney had an excellent year last year,” Chatnik said, “but this is the year she makes her mark. She scored 21 goals last year and missed nearly six games. Courtney has looked excellent this spring and we have high expectations for her.”

Rounding out the starting attack is junior Jen Madsen.

“Jen is also poised to have a top season,” Chatnik said. “She also had an excellent summer of playing and her game has really grown. Jen had 20 goals last season and quarterbacks the offense. She will be much more of a scorer this year.”

Also playing on attack are Meera Chappidi and sophomore Jenna Crupi.

“Meera got some quality time for us last year, scoring a huge overtime goal in a win at Shaker,” Chatnik said. “She is steady and consistent. Jenna is improving and understanding the system. She should see more time this year.”

Strong midfield

The midfield is strong led by juniors Amanda Best, Bridget Daley, and sophomore Chelsey Newman.

“We have been blessed with strong midfields over the years and this year’s is the strongest yet,” Chatnik said. “Our middies are fast, athletic; they score, and play defense. Amanda is very consistent and what she does on the field is not always in the box score. Her field sense is uncanny and she always seems to get the ball. She had 25 goals last year in being named a second-team all-star, but I believe that she will exceed that mark by a lot this year.

“Bridget’s value also does not appear in the stats,” Chatnik said, “but she won our top defensvie player award last year. Her offensive game has really improved and she will be a scoring threat. She also will have a breakout year.”

“Chelsey scored 42 goals last year,” Chatnik added, “but I really like the way she is finishing her shots this spring. She is finding corners and also distributing the ball well. Her game is more complete this year.”

Kristen Cagino and Ali DeRizzo will back up the trio.

“Kristen has improved a lot,” Chatnik said. “She has gotten more aggressive and her stick is solid. She will be part of the rotation. Ali has made good strides in her first year on varsity. Once her stick gets going and she learns the system, she will make good contributions. It will be soon.”

New defense

The defense is fairly new this year, but is doing well in the pre-season.

“Everyone knows that we graduated four first-team defenders last year,” Chatnik said, “but the group we have this year has worked quite hard in the off-season and I think they will surprise anyone.”

Senior captain Lauren Cagino leads the defense. She was a second-team all-star last year.

“She has a great work ethic and really pulls the defense together. Her teammates look to her as a leader. She has taken the role and run with it. We look forward to her having a great year.”

Juniors Corinne Chatnik and Amy Branchini join Cagino in the starting line-up.

“Both Corinne and Amy worked extremely hard this summer and fall,” Chatnik said. “The results show on the field. Corinne’s stick has really gotten good and she is a strong defender. Her reads on defense are good and she is ready to step up.

“Amy also has a good stick and is a very smart player. She reacts well to the play and knows what to do. She is ready to make her mark.”

Sophomores Marissa Page and Casey Gerety will also be part of the rotation.

“They bring a lot of speed and aggressiveness to the defense,” Chatnik said. “Marissa has worked hard and, once she gets her stick work to a high level, she will be a top player. All the ingredients are there. Casey also has shown us a lot on the field. She plays hard and has good field sense. Her stick is improving and we are expecting a lot this year.”

Junior Molly Barker will also see time this year.

“Molly has improved,” Chatnik said. “She is working hard and the hard work will pay off.”

Sophomores Hannah Scott and Julie Stefani round out the defense.

“Hannah is getting better each day,” Chatnik said. “She works hard and should see time this year. Julie is showing improvement and will gain a lot of experience this season.”

The goalie position will be anchored by sophomore Amanda Santandrea.

“Amanda has worked hard at being a top goalie,” Chatnik said. “I have monitored her progress and the time she has put in to improve her game. I am impressed. We will be very pleased with her in the goal this year.”

New coach for tough schedule

Jen Daly, a former University at Albany all-star goalie, will be the new assistant coach for Guilderland, replacing Tara McConaghy.

“We are very fortunate to have Jen on our staff,” Chatnik said. “As good of a player as she was, I think she will have an outstanding career as a coach. She has been a welcome addition.

“We will also miss Tara who has helped build our program to a high level,” Chatnik said. “She means a lot to our team, but she is taking some time off to spend with her new son.”

Guilderland opens the season against perennial power Bethlehem.

“The Suburban Council will be very tough again,” Chatnik said. “It looks like a six-team race and hopefully we can come out on top again this year. We need to keep improving and peak at the end. The girls have set a goal for themselves and have worked extremely hard in moving towards it. They are working out and practicing when they could be lounging around. I like our chances.”


Young Lady Dutch bring experience

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland softball team won’t be as young as they look.

Though there are just four seniors on the roster, there are many returning players among the underclassmen.

And it is a mix that Coach Jen Ficarra likes.

“I’m looking forward to this year,” she said. “It should be a good year for us. We have some experience. And having three coaches will definitely make a difference.”

Ficarra has a pair of assistant coaches — Beth Clement and Maria Denovio. Both have experience in the sport and played at the college level.

“While running a practice, we have several coaches,” Ficarra said. “We can do different things and that has helped.”

Clement played at Bethlehem High School and at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Denovio played at Shenendehowa High School and at Russell Sage College in Troy.

“They can take the girls and do something else,” Ficarra said. “Instead of standing around, there is more coaching going on.”

“Strong competition”

There are 12 players on the Lady Dutch squad this spring, led by seniors Michelle Giwerc, Sara Heller, Jenn McCutcheon, and Nicky Marcucci.

Heller returns behind the plate and brings a potent bat with her.

“She comes in every season ready to go,” Ficarra said. “She is strong. She hits the ball so hard. I don’t like pitching to her in batting practice because she hits the ball so hard.”

McCutcheon returns to the pitching circle this spring and will split time with junior Deb Schlidt.

“They are a strong combination,” Ficarra said. “They’re very different so they make a good combination together. It’s Jenn’s third year on varsity.”

“Deb is our utility player,” Ficarra said. “She is constantly moving around. She can pitch, play shortstop, or second. She can play anywhere.”

Giwerc returns to play at third base. She is a standout field hockey player as well and will play that sport at the University of Rochester.

Marcucci will see some time in the outfield.

Juniors on the team are Schildt, Meryl Kremer, Kristina Marilla, Lauren Napoli, and Marissa Valetta.

Napoli has been on the varsity since she was a ninth-grader and returns to patrol centerfield for the Lady Dutch.

“Her batting average was around .400 last year,” Ficarra said. “She is a strong player offensively and defensively.”

Valetta moves from second base to first base this season.

Kremer and Marilla will see time in the outfield this spring.

Rebecca Fitzgerald is the lone sophomore on the team. She was a late-season call-up to the varsity last spring and will play in the outfield this season.

Two newcomers to the varsity this spring are twins Morgan and Taylor Ten Eyk.

“The two eighth-graders are fitting in just fine,” Ficarra said. “They definitely earned their spots on the team. One plays short and one plays second and, during infield practice, it is like a mirror image. It’s funny.”

Morgan plays shortstop and Taylor will play at second base.

“Loaded up with 24 games”

The Lady Dutch have their first game scheduled on April 2. The Dutch have an ambitious schedule this season, including tournaments in Cobleskill and at Shaker.

“Our schedule works out in our favor,” Ficarra said. “We’re in a couple of tournaments. We’re loaded up with 24 games. We are hoping to get most of them in. We end up losing some non-league games because of weather.”

Ficarra hopes that the tough schedule will result in a return trip to the sectionals.

“Our goal is to make it to the sectionals and be over .500,” Ficarra said over the record needed to qualify for the sectional tournament. “We were there two years ago and we lost to Columbia and my former coach. I don’t expect anything less than the sectionals.”

Ficarra feels she has a team that is good enough to get back to the Class AA tournament.

“This should be a good year for us,” the coach said. “This is definitely one of the most skilled teams I’ve had. The challenge for us is hitting. We’ve been doing a lot of hitting in practice. Obviously, the challenge comes in real game situations. It’s tough to stay focused. I feel good about this year. The team’s come together.”


Cooped up in gym, Birds ready to fly

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — The young Blackbirds finally got out to play.

The Voorheesville softball team — with just two seniors — had its first practice outside Tuesday after spending the first couple of weeks of practice in the gym.

“It’s tough to be in the gym,” said Voorheesville Coach Matt Fiato after practice on Tuesday. “It’s been going OK. We’re young.”

The Lady Blackbirds have just two seniors on this year’s squad. Christine Abelseth returns and will play first base this year.

Brittany Vogel returns for her fourth year on varsity and will play shortstop again this year.

Young team

However, the Blackbirds are inexperienced in two key spots. Graduation left spots open at pitcher and catcher this spring.

“We need to get a few games under our belt as a team; we’ll be all right,” Fiato said.

Alissa Hatch does return to the varsity squad. She saw limited time in the pitcher’s circle behind Sarah LaFave, who graduated.

Also returning is sophomore Britney Creed. She started as a ninth-grader last year and will patrol centerfield this year.

Kelsey DeZalia also returns after starting as a ninth-grader last year. DeZalia will start at third base this year.

Kate Chiseri, a junior, also returns to the team this year.

Junior Kendra Campana will be on the varsity team for the first time. Sophomore Alexa Dillenbeck will also be new to the varsity and will be one of the team’s pitchers.

Liz Madden, another sophomore, comes over from the varsity basketball team and will be a varsity softball player this spring. She will play in the outfield.

Three ninth-graders also moved up to varsity for this season.

Caitlin Abelseth joins her older sister on the varsity squad this spring. Morgan Vandervort could see some time in the pitcher’s circle this spring and Brittany Fahd is up and will play some at catcher this year.

Fiato is carrying 12 players on the varsity this year but the lower levels are well stocked with players.

“The junior varsity has a lot,” the coach said. “They have 17 girls on the team, mostly eighth- and ninth-graders. We kept the varsity numbers down. It’s a good number, but a little on the low end.”

With the high number of young players on the team, Fiato still believes his squad can be competitive. And not just this year.

“With only two seniors, things are looking bright for the next few years,” Fiato said. “If we can stick close in our first few games, I’m hoping to score some runs this year. Then our pitching and catching will help us in games.”

Fiato plans on using all three pitchers.

“Alissa is our number one,” he said. “Morgan will be splitting innings with her. All three will see time, especially at the beginning of the year.”

“A tough league”

The Blackbirds have a demanding schedule that is — weather permitting — going to start on April 2 against Class AA school Guilderland. Voorheesville, which is much smaller, is a Class CC school. The Blackbirds also have a few other tough non-league games on the schedule along with a strong Colonial Council slate.

“It’s a tough league,” Fiato said. “Mechanicville is really good and Cohoes was in the state finals last year. We have speed and good hitters and bunters. Offensively, I feel confident and defensively I feel confident. We are just a little inexperienced.”

Fiato, who will be assisted by Jim Duncan again this year, said that his team has plenty of games scheduled for the month of April and, if all of them get in, it will be a challenge.

“We have non-league games with Amsterdam, Guilderland, and Chatham,” Fiato said. “We’ll have to see how our pitchers hold up.”

The Blackbirds drop from Class B to CC — because of smaller enrollment — and Fiato expects his team to be competitive when the playoffs come around in May.

“We want to have an above-.500 record and get into the sectionals and win one or two games,” Fiato said. “I think we can sneak in and win a game or two. And we should finish above .500 in the league and get into sectionals. And that’s what it is about, getting into sectionals and anything can happen.”

There are several girls on the team who experienced last year’s run to the Class B semifinals.

“The girls that are upperclassmen experienced two games in the sectionals,” Fiato said. “We had a win and a tough loss. I feel confident in our returning players. I feel confident we’ll do well against the teams we play in the league.”


Bulldogs building for a better season

 By Tim Matteson

BERNE —The Berne-Knox-Westerlo softball team is building for the future, but it still has goals for this year.

The Lady Bulldogs have just five returning players; eight players are new to the varsity this spring.

“We had a lot of seniors returning last year,” said BKW Coach Mike Reynolds. “It was my first year of coaching. I did what I could. The players now benefit from playing Little League. They have a softball league. We want to get the girls playing all year long whether in travel programs or rec. leagues.

“It’s tough to compete,” Reynolds added. “There are powerhouses like Duanesburg that we play that have the opportunity to play all year. It’s more difficult to compete against them. The girls and the families put a lot into it.

“These girls here should play outside of school ball.”

The BKW team is loaded with younger players.

“We are heavy with sophomores,” Reynolds said. “We are planning one or two years ahead. I think these girls will really be good players their junior and senior years. We need a better feeder program and we are getting more girls going from modified to junior varsity. And that is the benefit of playing in Little League. It’s definitely a good place to start.”

“Good athletes”

Returning for the Lady Bulldogs are Kieva Reynolds, Katrina Yakel, Lacey Yakel, Vicky Gerard, and Vicki Lounsbury.

Reynolds, the coach’s daughter, will return to the pitcher’s circle where she started last year as a freshman.

Katrina Yakel, a senior, can play both at catcher and first base. Her sister, Lacey, returns to play in centerfield.

Vicky Gerard played shortstop last year and will play second base this spring.

“She is a good athlete,” Coach Reynolds said. “She is our utility player. She’ll do whatever we need her to do.”

Lounsbury will see some time at third base this spring.

“She’s one of our third basemen,” Reynolds said. “She’s gotten better.”

Among the new players are sophomores Bridgit Hurst, Kristsin Depeaux, and  junior Tommi-Lee Springer.

Hurst is the Bulldogs’ second pitcher and can play at first base as well. Depeaux will play at shortstop and Springer can play at third base and will also try catching this year.

Aurora Becker is a senior who was on the junior varsity team last year. She will play in right field this year.

Becky Amedio, a ninth-grader, is a talented newcomer.

“She shows good promise,” Reynolds said. “We’ll be using her in leftfield and in the future we’ll try her at third base.”

Lydia Gerardi, a sophomore, is a newcomer who will get some playing time in right field.

Junior Noel Hatley shows good promise, Reynolds said, and will see time in right field this season.

“We have good athletes,” Reynolds said. “I’m looking forward to see them this year and I’m looking forward to next year. We’ll have three starting spots open up. They will fill in and we’ll see more of the girls. It’s part of the constant evolution of the program.”

“We want to win more”

Reynolds would like to see his team get outside for a practice and allow his players to use their talents on the field.

“I’m hoping to get outside tomorrow,” Reynolds said on Monday. “The girls are looking forward to it. We want to put all the basics and the skills we’ve developed into practice.”

Reynolds does have goals for this year’s team.

“We want to win more games than the year before,” Reynolds said. “I think we were 10-11 last year. I thought last year was a success. But we want to win more games than the year before and we want to commit fewer errors and continue hitting better.”

Reynolds said that the goal is also to finish with a .500 or better record and get into the sectionals. The Bulldogs are scheduled to open the season on Thursday, April 3, with a home contest against Canajoharie

“We want to qualify for sectionals on our merits,” Reynolds said. “We would like to go a little ways in sectionals, but we are starting with small steps. We always play to go all the way.”


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