Tag: Saratoga Springs

Summer 4 on 4 Tournament gives some Section 2 hockey teams a chance to practice their creativity and teamwork

By ROB JONAS

GLENS FALLS – There is a certain flow to 4-on-4 hockey that you can’t get when teams skate five per side. The rink opens up, there is more room to maneuver and you create more scoring opportunities.

This is one of the reasons why Queensbury hockey coach Dean Williams created the High School Hockey Summer 4 on 4 Tournament two years ago.

“Four-on-four hockey promoted puck movement. It promotes creativity,” said Williams. “You don’t have right wing, left wing, center and defense. You’ve got four hockey players on the ice playing offense or defense.”

The first two editions of the 4-on-4 Tournament did not draw many Section 2 teams. However, Williams moved the tournament one week earlier this year than when he scheduled it the first two times, and it resulted in an expanded eight-team field representing six Section 2 programs – Queensbury, Shenendehowa, Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, Saratoga Springs, Christian Brothers Academy and Adirondack (a combined program between Glens Falls, South Glens Falls and Hudson Falls).

“It was a challenge to get teams the first two years because it was a week later in August, after fall teams began practicing,” said Shenendehowa hockey coach Juan de la Rocha. “A lot of kids play football in the fall.”

The first two days of the tournament – August 10 and 11 at Cool Insuring Arena – were played in a round-robin format. The eight teams were divided into two divisions, and each team played a total of three games. The first place teams from each division met in the championship game August 12, with the second, third and fourth place teams meeting in consolation contests.

Games were played in two 25-minute halves with running time. The clock was stopped in the event of a penalty or in the final two minutes of the contest if the goal differential was less than three. The championship game was played in two 30-minute periods with running time, and overtime was allotted, if necessary.

The 4-on-4 format promoted back-and-forth action, a lot of goals and a lot of saves. Coaches cared more about how their players performed than the final scores.

“It’s an opportunity to see your team before the regular season begins,” said de la Rocha. “I want to see creativity, but I also want to see how unselfish they can be [with the puck.]”

“Scores don’t matter, but I’d rather have an 8-7 game where it’s back and forth than if it is one-sided,” said Williams.

Queensbury and Adirondack struggled the most during the tournament, primarily because they split their squads into two teams. Williams said he wants to create more of a competitive balance next year by creating divisions based age level and experience.

“I want to have a futures division and a varsity division,” said Williams. “The futures division would be for eighth and ninth graders who would be trying out for varsity for the first time, and the varsity division would be for the older players.”

The 4-on-4 tournament is part of Section 2 hockey’s strategy for keeping high school players involved in the sport beyond the regular season, which runs from November through February. Section 2 hockey coaches also created a “wrap program” in the fall where players can either try out for one of two elite teams (18-and-under, 16-and-under) or play for their community’s team. The wrap program holds its playoffs in the spring, once the regular high school season ends.

“The wrap program has helped [improve play and retain talent], especially the first couple of years,” said de la Rocha. “A lot of what we’re up against is a lot of youth [travel] teams telling our kids, ‘You play 20 games; we play 50.’ The wrap program gives our kids an opportunity to play more games.”

Having an event such as this weekend’s 4-on-4 tournament also helps the Section 2 coaches’ efforts.

“I like it a lot. It gives the kids an opportunity to see how creative they can be,” said de la Rocha.

A photo gallery from the tournament can be found here.

08.11.18 BHBS @ Shen HockeySection 2 Showcase
Photo by Robert Dungan
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Scenes from the High School Hockey Summer 4 on 4 Tournament

The third annual High School Hockey Summer 4 on 4 Tournament pitted six Section 2 squads – Queensbury, Adirdonack (Glens Falls, South Glens Falls and Hudson Falls), Shenendehowa, Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, Christian Brothers Academy and Saratoga Springs – against each other in a round-robin tournament August 10-12 at the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls. Each game consisted of two 25-minute halves with running time. Photos by Robert Dungan

The lowdown: Section 2 large school cross country

By ROB JONAS

The 2017 Section 2 cross country season was unusual in that the Saratoga Springs girls team failed to win the Class A title for the first time since 1999. Shenendehowa ended the Blue Streaks’ 17-year reign by claiming the crown with 40 points, while Niskayuna snuck in for second place with 60 points.

Normalcy returned later in November, as Saratoga edged Shenendehowa by three points for third place at the Nike Cross Nationals regional meet to qualify for the national finals in Oregon. There, Kelsey Chmiel placed second to cap a junior season which also included her third consecutive Sectional title and runner-up performances at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and New York State Federation meets.

Can Saratoga climb back to the top of the Class A field at this year’s Sectionals? Will Niskayuna defend its boys Class A title against a crowded field that includes Bethlehem, Saratoga, Shenendehowa and Guilderland? And how have the BEDS numbers affected the large school landscape for 2018? Here is a look at how things could shape up in Class A and Class B this season.

Class A Girls
Shenendehowa became the first team other than Saratoga to win the Sectional title since Colonie in 1999, thanks to a trio of talented seniors – Hannah Reale, Olivia Lomascolo and Charlotte Hartman – who placed in the top 10. Now that they’ve graduated, it will be up to returning juniors Hannah Belleville (11th at last year’s Sectionals) and Jada Dennis (12th) to lead the Plainsmen in their quest to repeat.

Niskayuna similarly graduated three key runners from its top five at last year’s Sectionals – Abigail Spiers (second), Amelia Kokernak (10th) and Samantha Padula (20th). However, the Silver Warriors have an equally strong core of young runners returning this year, including freshmen Liyat Kebbede (13th last year), Abigail Thomas (23rd) and Sophia Boler (24th). They, along with senior Charlotte Kokernak, should keep Niskayuna in the title hunt.

Saratoga was unable to form its traditional pack of front runners last season, but the Blue Streaks have some promising young talent in eighth graders McKinley Wheeler and Skyler Knott. Then, there is Chmiel’s quest for a fourth straight Sectional title to look for.

Perhaps the team best positioned to make a move up the Sectional standings this season is Bethlehem. The Lady Eagles return their top four runners from last year’s Sectionals, and not one of them is a senior. With juniors Rachel Hodge (sixth place in 2017), Gillian Roeder (19th) and Emily Smith (25th), as well as eighth grader Rylee Davis (ninth), Bethlehem has an opportunity to challenge for the title after finishing fourth a year ago.

Other runners to watch include Ballston Spa junior Faith DeMars, who finished third at Sectionals last year, and Guilderland sophomore Alexandria Vellekoop, who placed 14th in 2017.

Boys Class A
The top two teams from last year’s Sectional meet have significant shoes to fill, as both Niskayuna and Bethlehem graduated four of their top five runners. Senior Marty Dolan (seventh place) returns for Niskayuna, along with junior Thomas Ragone (31st), while Bethlehem will likely rely on senior Matt Cavaliere (sixth).

Shenendehowa graduated Liam Hickey and TJ Michalek from last year’s team, which finished third at Sectionals. The Plainsmen’s future looks bright, though, with the return of seniors Alex Hislop (12th place in 2017), Odin Schaepkins (27th) and Gregory Langone (30th), along with junior Bryan Spence (29th).

Saratoga is well positioned for a run at the Class A team title after finishing fourth last year. The Blue Streaks return their entire top five from last year’s Sectional meet, including senior Shea Weilbaker, who turned in a third-place finish at Sectionals a year ago. Junior Aidan Waite (18th last year) and senior Ezra Ruggles (23rd) are also back, as are sophomore Brady Tooker and senior Anthony Verro.

Looking for a darkhorse? Look no farther than Guilderland, which returns its top four runners from last year’s Sectional meet. Senior Noah Tindale is aiming to improve upon a ninth-place finish in 2017, and senior Nicholas Soldevere has his sights set on a top-20 finish.

Other runners to watch in 2018 include Ballston Spa junior Ben Guerin, who finished 13th at the 2017 Section 2 meet, Shaker junior T.J. Randall (15th) and Schenectady senior Isaac Menis (21st).

New additions to Class A in 2018: Queensbury and Amsterdam (both up from Class B)

Girls Class B
Even with perennial Class B power Queensbury now in Class A, this year will be intriguing as a young and talented Mohonasen squad looks to unseat defending champion Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.

Mohonasen is led by the Sherman sisters – sophomore Kate Sherman, who finished third at last year’s Sectionals, and senior Anna Sherman, who was seventh. Throw in junior Emma Sinisgalli (eighth in 2017) and freshman Natalia Sawyer (15th), the Mighty Warriors have a core four that rivals Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake isn’t about to let Mohonasen take its crown easily, though. The Spartans have four key runners returning, led by defending Class B champion Rory Graham. Freshman Emily Burg (sixth place in 2017) is also back, as are sophomores Madi Whited (23rd) and Maddy Smith (24th).

Queensbury’s departure gives other schools a chance to climb the ladder. Scotia-Glenville has four of its top five runners returning from a team that finished fourth a year ago, while Academy of the Holy Names possesses two of the more promising freshmen in Class B with Isabel Vogel (11th place last year) and Livingston Ottman (16th).

Other runners to keep an eye on this season include Emma Willard junior Skylar Dailey (10th place at the 2017 Sectionals), Schalmont sophomore Mya June (14th), Scotia-Glenville sophomore Delaney Krogh (18th) and Gloversville senior Daley Jo Christman (20th).

Boys Class B
Without Queensbury, the gap between Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and the rest of the Class B field figures to only get larger in 2018. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake dominated the 2017 Sectional race by placing six runners in the top 10, including a sweep of the top three places, and the Spartans did not lose any of those runners to graduation.

On the surface, Schalmont’s Antonio and Francisco Beltran have the best shot to break up Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s top five of Tyler Berg, Aidan Gillooley, Evan Brennan, David Metacarpa and Nick Hunziker. The Beltrans placed fourth and fifth last year, but they will need to improve their Sectional times by 25 seconds in order to close the gap between them and the trio of Berg, Gillooley and Brennan.

Schalmont and Scotia-Glenville are the teams most likely to benefit from Queensbury’s departure. Schalmont returns its top five runners, while Scotia-Glenville has four of its core five coming back. Scotia-Glenville also has the highest ceiling of the two teams, as two runners – Alex Tebano and Noah Greski – are entering their sophomore seasons, and another – Kyle Ostrander – is entering his junior season. Tebano, Greski, Ostrander and senior Gabe Winters-Bona all placed in the top 30 at last year’s Sectional meet for the Tartans. Schalmont is loaded with seniors including the Beltrans, AJ Roohan, Jacob Wilson and John Dearstyne.

Other runners to keep an eye on include Mohonasen junior Nathan Belcastro (16th at Sectionals in 2017) and Mohonasen senior Kevin Sherameta (22nd).

Coming soon: Class CC, C and D previews

The Lowdown: Boys soccer

By ROB JONAS

As we draw closer to the start of fall sports team practices, Capital Region HS Sports is taking a look back at the 2017 season and any notable changes for 2018. Today, we examine Section 2 boys soccer.

2017 Recap

League champions
Adirondack League East: Fort Ann
Adirondack League West: Lake George
Central Hudson Valley League: Loudonville Christian and Bishop Maginn (tie)
Colonial Council: Ichabod Crane
Foothills Council North: Queensbury
Foothills Council South: Scotia-Glenville
Patroon Conference: Catskill and Greenville (tied for most points)
Suburban Council Blue: Saratoga Springs
Suburban Council Gray: Christian Brothers Academy
Western Athletic Conference Division 1: Mayfield
Western Athletic Conference Division 2: Oppenheim-Ephretah-St. Johnsville (OESJ)
Wasaren League Division 1: Mechanicville
Wasaren League Division 2: Cambridge

Section 2 champions
Class AA: Shenendehowa defeated CBA 2-1
Class A: Queensbury defeated Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 3-1
Class B: Ichabod Crane defeated Schalmont 2-0
Class CC: Greenville defeated Lake George 1-0
Class C: Maple Hill defeated Berlin 2-0
Class D: Fort Ann defeated Loudonville Christian 3-1

2018 Update
New BEDS numbers mean Ballston Spa and Troy have moved to Class A. Class AA and Class A now have the same number of schools (12). Note: Ballston Spa missed the cutoff to remain in Class AA by two students (963). Greenville hit the low-end cutoff for Class B (270) after playing in Class C last year. Corinth also made the move up from Class C to Class B.

Class C remains the largest group in Section 2 with 25 schools, with Class B following with 22 schools. Last year, Section 2 divided Class C into two groups (Class CC and Class C) for the playoffs.

Mohonasen and Fonda-Fultonville are in new leagues this season. Mohonasen left the Suburban Council to join the Colonial Council, where it will have the opportunity to face crosstown rival Schalmont as part of its league schedule. Fonda-Fultonville parted ways with the Colonial Council to join the Western Athletic Conference.

There are three new rules being implemented by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association this season. The first allows players to wear a head covering for medical, cosmetic or religious reasons. The second allows referees to issue a yellow or a red card when they determine that an obvious scoring opportunity has been denied by a foul committed by an opposing player, depending on the seriousness of the foul. Lastly, referees can award a direct free kick if they determine that a player or a coach interfered with play or an official by leaving the bench.

The first day for soccer practices is Monday, Aug. 13.