By Mike Wertman
Medina Journal-Register — AMHERST - A lone goal proved to be just enough to earn top seeded Barker a 1-0 victory over Niagara-Orleans League rival No. 3 Akron Tuesday to retain the Section VI Class C field hockey title.
Melssa Grosshans scored the game’s one goal just 2:34 into the second half off a nifty pass from Makenzi Strickland to earn the Lady Raiders their fifth straight Class C championship victory over Akron.
“They want it. They want it bad,” exclaimed Barker coach Jeff Costello. “The girls work so hard. I’m just so proud of them.”
Barker dominated play for most of the first half but could not dent the Akron cage. However, the Lady Raiders came out fast in the second half, got the passing game clicking and quickly cashed in for the decisive goal by Grosshans off the nice long crossing pass from Strickland.
“That goal was huge,” Costello said. “We came out strong in the first half as well but couldn’t finish. We kept nibbling but couldn’t get the ball in the cage. We got good and warmed up to start the second half and came out strong again and our passing game was better. Our passing game is huge for us.”
Akron did come battling back after the goal getting three straight corner opportunities but the Lady Tigers were unable to capitalize.
The Barker defense came up strong during that stretch highlighted by a big clear by Jessica Hefferon who came back to clear the ball.
“That was a huge play by Jessica,” Costello said. “She really came back well and made a huge play for us.”
After withstanding that Akron surge, Barker controlled play for most of the last 20 minutes getting five corners and having no less than three shots bang off the post.
“It’s always tough to play a team a third time in a season,” said Costello whose Lady Raiders had bested the Lady Tigers twice during the N-O season by scores of 3-0 and 1-0. “But our kids kept working and we got our passing game going.”
In their four previous title round meetings Barker bested Akron 5-0 in 2008, 3-0 in 2009, 5-0 in 2010 and 3-0 in 2011.
Barker advanced to the title contest by defeating No. 8 Holland 4-0 in the quarterfinals and No 5 Newfane 6-0 in the semifinals. Akron bested No. 7 Wilson 8-0 in the quarterfinals and No. 2 Eden 2-0 in the semis.
Improving to 14-0-1, Barker will next face East Rochester at Penfield at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Far West Regional. That game will also be a rematch as East Rochester nipped Barker 1-0 in last year’s Far West Regional.