BUFFALO — If soccer games were decided based on past results, Medina would have had little chance of competing in Wednesday afternoon’s Class B pre-quarterfinal contest against City Honors. In 2012 sectional play, the Lady Centaurs pounced on the Lady Mustangs, to the tune of an 11-0 romp.
But coach Mike Lepkyj’s Medina squad was much improved this season, and the No. 16 Lady Mustangs made quite the upset bid against No. 1 City Honors. Medina led throughout most of the second half before allowing the game-tying goal late, and couldn’t bounce back in overtime.
City Honors won the 20-minute overtime period 2-0, to come away with a 5-3 victory at Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium in Buffalo. The Lady Centaurs move on to the Class B quarterfinals, while Medina’s season concludes.
“It’s tough, because I kind of feel like the better team today didn’t win,” Lepkyj said. “We didn’t control the whole game, but we controlled most of it, and we couldn’t get it done.”
City Honors got a huge game from sophomore Molly Petrucci, who scored three goals and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, making the most of her opportunities when they came about.
Medina tied the game at one on a goal by Taylor Miller, the team’s unquestioned offensive leader, who seemingly made it her personal mission to give the Lady Mustangs every chance possible to win the game. Miller produced booming kicks that altered the field position battle, frequently to eighth-grader Destiny Stakowski, who played mostly upfield and had a number of breakaway opportunities.
Stakowski took advantage with 17 minutes remaining in the first half, taking a pass just inside midfield and racing all the way up into the zone, beating the goalie with a well-directed shot that gave Medina a 2-1 advantage.
City Honors came back and tied it up six minutes later, on an quick end-to-end dash that culminated in a goal by Petrucci. The 2-2 score held until halftime.
Less than two minutes after the intermission, Miller scored again off a set play in the offensive end, giving Medina the lead back at 3-2. City Honors picked up more control of the game from there, but Medina goalie Liz Meyer held strong and made several key plays on the ball to help the Lady Mustangs maintain the edge well into the half.
But with 13 minutes remaining, that quickly changed. City Honors junior Hannah Annunziata took a direct kick from about 35 feet after a Medina foul, launching a perfectly placed shot that soared just over Meyer’s outstretched hand.
“That play was the key to the game,” City Honors coach Andrew McDermott said. “That tied the game up, and I feel like we kept the momentum the rest of the way.”
City Honors almost got the victory in regulation, as Annunziata drove with the ball into the right corner as the final seconds ticked away, producing a shot near the net that was almost deflected in. The ball sailed just wide, and the game went to overtime.
In the first of two 10-minute extra periods, Petrucci struck again, scoring the game-winner off a corner kick that took a funny hop and managed to slide past Meyer.
This marked Petrucci’s third goal of the afternoon, as Lepkyj found it frustrating to try and contain the star sophomore’s offensive ability.
“Coming into the game, we wanted to try and man-mark her,” Lepkyj said. “After a while, it was just like, ‘aw, man.’ We couldn’t stop her.”
Stakowski had a few good looks late in the second overtime, but couldn’t beat the goalie. City Honors eighth-grader Arielle Nealy padded the score on a goal with 13 seconds remaining. Just like that, Medina’s season was over.
“This was the best game we had all year,” McDermott said. “It was a very close game, evenly matched, and it came down to the wire. This year, Medina seemed better, more mature, and they did everything pretty well.”
“We didn’t play too many close games this year,” Lepkyj added. “So this definitely made it exciting. Our girls have been starting to play together all year-round, and it’s made a difference.”
Medina concludes the 2013 campaign at 6-12, while City Honors improves to 12-1.
Roy-Hart 2, da Vinci 0
BUFFALO — Wednesday was Emma Lindke’s birthday, and she found a way to celebrate it quite well.
Lindke scored just two minutes into the game, on an assist from Amber Villella, as No. 12 Roy-Hart defeated No. 5 Leonardo da Vinci in a Class B pre-quarterfinal game at Riverside Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Midway through the second half, Allie Sauers provided insurance for Roy-Hart, finding the net on an assist from Melissa Zakrzewski.
Ashley Bower earned the shutout for the Lady Rams, making two saves in 80 minutes of work. Roy-Hart moves on to face No. 4 Akron this afternoon in the Class B quarterfinals. Start time is slated for 3:30 p.m. at Akron High School.
Grand Island 4, Albion 2
GRAND ISLAND — Mariah Elsenheimer and Kayla Doyle scored in the second half, but No. 10 Albion fell in a Class A girls soccer sectional quarterfinal game on Thursday evening.
No. 2 Grand Island jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead and expanded the lead to 4-0 early in the second half, before the Lady Purple Eagles battled back in the last 25 minutes. Grand Island has an 8-1 advantage in shots on goal at one point, but the end-of-game margin was only 12-9 in favor of Grand Island.
“We ran into a very good team tonight,” Albion coach Bruce Blanchard said. “They’re fast and physical, and they have strong legs. Our girls played hard; we had a good season, and we ran into a good team tonight.”
Blanchard said he expects Grand Island and No. 1 seed Williamsville South to contend for the Class A crown. The Lady Purple Eagles conclude their season at 11-7 overall, 9-5 in Niagara-Orleans League play.