COMMENTARY: Fall sports give N-O fans plenty to cheer
By Kevin Prise The Journal-Register
With Barker field hockey finishing up a one-loss season with a 3-1 victory over Eden in the Class C sectional final, this seems like an appropriate time to reflect on the resounding success of many Niagara-Orleans League teams in this year's Section VI postseason play. Barker will take on East Rochester in the first round of state tournament play at 1 p.m. this Saturday in Medina, and looks poised to make a deep run, anchored by the likes of all-league players Olivia Denny, Heather Mason and Melissa Grosshans.
Other local teams may not have quite made it to the state tournament rounds in their respective sports, but in many cases, it was pretty darned close. The N-O success was perhaps most apparent in boys soccer, when three of the four teams in the Class B semifinals hailed from the N-O league. Medina defeated Newfane in a double-overtime thriller in an all-N-O semifinal game, while Akron advanced to the final by defeating Southwestern, 2-0.
In the B championship, Akron defeated Medina 2-0 and will represent the N-O in a Far West Regional game against Livonia (Section V) at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow at Eastridge HS, outside Rochester. Even CSAT, 2-10 in N-O regular season play, demonstrated its toughness during the sectional playoffs, surprising da Vinci and Lackawanna before losing 1-0 to Southwestern in the Class B quarterfinal round.
In girls soccer, Albion surprised Amherst in the Class A opening round before hanging tough in a road loss to second-seeded Grand Island. In Class B postseason play, sixteenth-seeded Medina almost shocked the region by taking a late lead against No. 1 City Honors, only to succumb in overtime. No. 12 Roy-Hart knocked off No. 5 da Vinci before falling to No. 4 Akron, who made a run of its own under coach Lori Welch and will represent Section VI in Class B state play.
In the Class B volleyball tournament, the final was contested between N-O school Albion and former N-O school Starpoint, with the Lady Spartans winning to advance to state play. In the Class C bracket, coach Tim Lincoln's No. 13 Medina squad was the only school to beat a higher seed in the pre-quarterfinal round, surprising No. 4 East HS. Quarterfinal action saw No. 6 Wilson surprise No. 3 Falconer.
Time and again throughout the sectional playoffs, N-O teams provided upsets over other area teams, showing the worthiness of high school sports in our region. It makes you wonder if the seeding committees will grant more respect to the N-O league in coming years.
Tomorrow afternoon, Barker's game is just one of three state tournament matchups that will take place at Veterans Park. Class B champion Amherst will match up against Brighton at 11 a.m., and Class A champion Clarence will cap the festivities with a 3 p.m. contest against Fairport.
It's one final chance to enjoy fall sports before the winter arrives in full flourish. Considering the N-O league's success during the fall, this year's winter sports promise to bring their full share of good times and achievements.