With the fall sports season wrapped up and the winter season about to begin — and with the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in full swing — it seems like a good time to take stock of the fall sports season that just was. After some reflection, here are the J-R's top 10 sports moments of the fall in local sports (Medina, Albion, Roy-Hart and Barker teams). Comments regarding the selections are encouraged!
Enjoy your holiday weekend, everyone.
10. Albion girls soccer defeats Amherst to advance to Class A quarters
After a solid regular season near the top of the N-O standings, coach Bruce Blanchard's No. 10 Albion squad surprised No. 7 Amherst on the road in the Class A pre-quarterfinal round. Star sophomore Mariah Elsenheimer scored with 24 minutes remaining, providing the only scoring of the game, and Blanchard credited the defensive back line for holding tough and rendering the Lady Tiger attack useless.
Albion moved on to face No. 2 Grand Island in the quarterfinal round.
9. Roy-Hart girls soccer upsets No. 5 da Vinci in soccer playoffs
No. 12 Roy-Hart went on the road to battle a tough da Vinci squad, and coach Michelle Jennings' crew surprised the opposition with a 2-0 upset victory in a Class B pre-quarterfinal game. Emma Lindke celebrated her birthday quite well by giving the Lady Rams the lead just two minutes into the game, and Allie Sauers provided insurance later in the second half.
Roy-Hart advanced to face No. 4 Akron in the Class B quarterfinals.
8. Albion football defeats Lew-Port to boost playoff hopes
After a 1-2 start to the season, coach Tony Osburn's Purple Eagle squad rattled off its third straight win with a 14-6 victory over Lew-Port, keeping its sectional playoff hopes alive and well.
Tailback Ed Wolfe led the way with 125 yards on 20 carries in the Class B North contest, as Albion controlled the clock and the field position battle for most of the evening. Osburn was thrilled afterwards, saying it was a great matchup of two great teams, and that he hoped the fans enjoyed it.
7. Medina girls soccer nearly shocks No. 1 City Honors
Coach Mike Lepkyj's No. 16 Lady Mustang squad hung tough all the way through against top-seeded City Honors, taking a 3-2 lead early in the second half and maintaining the lead well into the latter stages of regulation. City Honors tied the game with 12 minutes remaining in regulation, and pulled away in the 20-minute overtime, earning a 5-3 victory in the Class B pre-quarterfinal matchup.
Star Medina senior Taylor Miller closed her career with a two-goal performance, while eighth-grader Destiny Stakowski added another on a breakaway.
6. Barker golf wins N-O championship to cap undefeated season
Charismatic coach Tim Daley and the Raiders were the cream of the N-O crop all regular season long, and proved it in the league championship tournament at Willowbrook GC in Lockport.
Brad Wilson earned medalist honors by shooting a 79, and Alonzo St. Louis added an 83, allowing Barker to cruise to victory and cap its perfect season.
Late in the regular season, the Mustangs pulled out a season-defining victory with a narrow 1-0 win over Akron, in an N-O league contest. The Mustangs played strong defense all game long to stifle the Tiger attack. Junior Steven Anderson scored early in the second half after a perfect throw-in by fellow star junior James Ianni, and Medina held on.
After the game, Akron coach Chuck Pfohl was defiant to the media, claiming that the result meant nothing. Medina players and coaches begged to differ, as the victory sparked a strong finish to the regular season — and a lengthy playoff run.
4. Albion volleyball defeats Cheektowaga, advances to sectional finals
Veteran Albion volleyball coach Ann Capacci preached togetherness and team chemistry throughout the entire season, as the Lady Purple Eagles stormed through their N-O slate with an unblemished 12-0 record. The team carried the momentum forward with playoff wins over Lew-Port (pre-quarters) and Iroquois (quarters), before cruising past Cheektowaga in straight sets in a Class B semifinal matchup. The 3-0 victory allowed Albion the opportunity to face Starpoint in the Class B championship game.
Kelsee Soule led Albion against Cheektowaga with 12 kills, 10 digs and three aces, while Chanyce Powell added six kills, four digs, three blocks and an ace.
3. Medina football defeats Albion, advances to sectional playoffs
After a wild ride through the regular season, the Mustangs clinched a spot in the sectional playoffs with a just-as-wild 38-31 victory over Albion in the battle for Doc's Rock, in a Class B North contest at Albion HS.
Medina quarterback Jason Hellwig directed scoring drives on the Mustangs' first two possessions, versatile senior Munjie Brown produced some big-play rushing yards late in the game, and coach Eric Valley's squad won in Albion for the first time since 1999.
Medina moved on to face No. 1 small school Alden in the Class B quarterfinals.
2. Medina boys soccer defeats Newfane in Class B-1 championship
On a cold, wet and windy night in Hamburg, the foot of Medina senior Brennen O'Connor gave the Mustangs the Class B-1 crown.
The game was deadlocked at 1-1 after 80 minutes of regulation, as well as nearly two full overtime periods. But with under six minutes remaining in the second OT, O'Connor took a corner kick and played the wind perfectly, watching the ball sail into the top right corner of the net. The Mustang team raced onto the field to celebrate, as soaking-wet fans in the crowd rejoiced.
James Ianni gave Medina the lead early in the game on a header, off a long pass from O'Connor. Newfane tied it up with 3:30 remaining in the first half, on a goal by Brett Stern. Medina goalie Adam Hoot exited the game briefly in the second half due to injury, but returned to make several key saves late that sent the game to overtime.
Medina moved on to face Akron in the Class B crossover final two days later.
1. Barker field hockey defeats East Rochester, advances to state semifinals
After both teams played strong defense throughout the Class C state quarterfinal contest, it took a mind-blowing play for a goal to be scored.
That play was produced by Barker's Gabby Clare, who gained control of the ball near midfield and carried it toward the net with a few dazzling stick-handling moves past East Rochester defenders. Clare fed Erin Greenwald in front, who lofted a crisp shot past the helpless goalie. Sophomore goaltender Caitlyn Mason held tough in net over the last few minutes to preserve the shutout victory.
With the 1-0 victory, coach Jeff Costello's Barker squad advanced to play Cazenovia in the Class C state semifinals at Cicero-North Syracuse HS.
"It was so awesome," said Barker fan Kellie Milne after the game, summing up the feeling of joy that permeated throughout the crowd at the Medina HS turf field. "Something just to be really thankful for."
An appropriate sentiment for this holiday weekend.