By Kevin Prise
Springville 4, Albion 1
SPRINGVILLE - The high school soccer playoffs don't offer second chances. Miss a few opportunities, let the opposition capitalize on a few, and just like that the season is over.
That's what happened to the Albion boys soccer team on Monday afternoon. The Purple Eagles controlled possession for much of the game, spending a ton of time in the offensive zone near the net, but failed to score until it was too late. 10-seed Albion fell to 7-seed Springville, 4-1, in the pre-quarterfinal round of the Class A-2 playoffs. Springville moves on to face 2-seed Riverside in Buffalo this afternoon.
"We played an even game, back and forth," veteran Albion coach Greg Martillotta said. "We had our chances, and we just couldn't capitalize on them."
Midway through the first half, Springville scored two quick goals within the span of five minutes, a margin that would hold up until halftime. Both came of the foot of Kevin Zabawa, on assists from Owen Gow.
As the final minutes of the half ticked away, Albion maintained serious pressure but couldn't take advantage.
The Purple Eagles kept up the heat early in the second half, as (XX) and (XX) continued to circle the Springville net, but were foiled away numerous times by Griffins goalie Nolan Gills, who drew huge roars from the pro-Springville crowd as he made impressive diving saves.
The Albion pressure subsided as the half wore on, and Springville's Dustin Emerson essentially sealed the deal with 17 minutes remaining in the game. Emerson obtained possession of the ball about 20 feet in front of the goalkeeper, taking a low, hard shot that found the left corner of the net. It was now 3-0, a deficit that was now almost impossible to overcome.
Springville's Brandon Sullivan added another with 10 minutes remaining, and Albion's Kyler McQuillan found the net with less than five minutes left, on a direct kick.
Despite the three-goal margin of victory, Springville coach Tom Szczerbacki came away impressed with the game effort produced by Martillotta's squad. Szczerbacki said he hadn't previously coached against the Purple Eagles, and that Albion's level of competition was far superior to what you may expect from a No. 10 seed in a 10-team playoff bracket.
"They could definitely knock it around," Szczerbacki said. "They had great opportunities, and they battled, but they just couldn't get one in. Our goalie came up with some big saves late in the first and early in the second, and we just kind of battled through the storm. It was well-played on both sides."
Despite the 82-mile bus ride from Albion all the way down to Springville, Martillotta didn't want to use the lengthy travel distance as an excuse. He said the team prepared for the drive as well as it could, but that Springville's two quick first-half goals just made for an uphill battle that was difficult to overcome.
From here, the Purple Eagles look to improve offensively throughout the offseason, so they can turn things around in time for 2014 Niagara-Orleans League play. Albion concludes the 2013 campaign at 2-14-1 overall, 2-9-1 in league play.
"The defensive side was our strong suit all year," Martillotta said. "Moving forward, we'll be focused on getting better on the offensive side of the ball."
Medina 5, JFK 0
Offensive stalwart Taylor Miller scored three goals, helping the Lady Mustangs pull away from John F. Kennedy in a Class B opening-round playoff game at Veterans Park on Monday afternoon.
Medina struggled to find its legs early, but took control once its defense started to step up, coach Mike Lepkyj said.
"We played a sloppy first 10 minutes, but then our defense stepped it up," Lepkyj said. "That translated to our offense, and it gave us some scoring opportunities."
Emilee Austin opened the scoring at the 15th minute, on an assist from Kyla Leno. From there, Miller took over, scoring the next three goals that wrapped around the halftime break. Miller scored an unassisted goal at the 23-minute mark, and tallied at the 32nd minute on an assist from Max Wright, giving Medina a 3-0 halftime advantage.
Miller completed the hat trick 10 minutes into the second half, on another unassisted goal. Wright rounded off the scoring, with 12 minutes to play in the game.
Liz Meyer earned the shutout in goal, as the Medina defense made it rather simple for her, keeping JFK from registering a shot on net. Lepkyj said he had the luxury of scouting a JFK game last week, which gave the Mustangs a substantial advantage in pregame preparation.
"I don't get to scout too many games," Lepkyj said. "So scouting them last week was very rare; we got to see what their weaknesses were, and it gave us an edge."
Next up, Medina travels to face City Honors this afternoon at Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium in Buffalo (start time slated for 3:30 p.m.) This marks the second straight season the two teams will meet in the Class B playoffs. Last year, Medina fell by an 11-0 margin, as Miller couldn't play due to a red card suffered in the previous game, Lepkyj said.
Lepkyj admitted that City Honors poses a daunting challenge, but he isn't ready to concede defeat just yet.
"It's not going to be easy," Lepkyj said. "But it's better than playing Wilson, Tonawanda or Akron (the 2, 3 and 4-seeds)."
City Honors rolled through the regular season at 11-1 to earn the No. 1 seed in Class B.
No. 16 Medina is now 6-11 this season, while No. 17 JFK concludes its season at 1-9-3 overall.
Orchard Park wins ECIC team championship
Orchard Park won the ECIC team golf championship for the first time in five years on Monday afternoon, defeating Williamsville North by nine strokes at Diamond Hawk GC in Cheektowaga.
The Quakers combined for a six-man score of 233, while Williamsville North shot 242. Eden posted 264, while Starpoint rounded things out with a score of 276. Eight players competed for each team, and each team's two highest scores were dropped.
OP's Adam Patronik and Will North's Ben Reichert shared medalist honors with nine-hole scores of even-par 36. Matt Lesinski (WN) shot 37, while Erich Spitz (OP) and Zach Stebbins (OP) shot 38.
Trevor Dobrzenski (Eden) and Todd Stebbins (OP) shot 39, while Matt Ladd (WN) and Alex Prise (OP) shot 40. Sean Brown led coach Dave Schopf's Starpoint squad with a 41.
Orchard Park coach Nate Leary was very pleased with his team's win, saying it was a testament to his players' dedication and work ethic throughout the season.
"It is nice to see the team live up to their potential," Leary said. "As well as to embrace a team atmosphere, in a sport that is usually played on an individual level."
Cyndi Prise contributed to this report.