By Kevin Prise
AMHERST — As the only Niagara-Orleans League school to play in the Class A playoff bracket, Albion could have very well been overwhelmed in Tuesday evening's opening-round matchup at Amherst.
But the Lady Purple Eagles held tough, withstood a late Amherst flurry, and came away with an impressive 1-0 victory over No. 10 Amherst at the Amherst Turf Field. With the win, No. 7 Albion advances to face No. 2 Grand Island in the Class A quarterfinals, and its season stays alive.
"We played well," Albion coach Bruce Blanchard said. "It was back-and-forth for most of the game, but for the last seven or eight minutes, they put a lot of pressure on us. We blocked some shots, our defense played well, and our goalie played well."
After the two teams played to a 0-0 first-half tie, Albion got on the board with 24 minutes remaining in regulation, on a goal by Mariah Elsenheimer, assisted by Kayla Doyle.
Doyle took the ball inside midfield and beat an Amherst defender, finding a seam to get the ball to Elsenheimer, who was 1-on-1 with the goalie. Elsenheimer took a shot from just inside the 18-foot mark and found the back of the net, scoring the goal that ultimately held up as the game-winner.
With windy conditions wreaking havoc in other games across the region, the Amherst-Albion duel was protected from the elements thanks to the stadium setting at the Amherst field, Blanchard said.
Jayne Bannister held strong in goal, making 10 saves to earn the shutout, while Blanchard also wanted to credit his defense for its intensity and hard work throughout the night — namely Ally Page, Mandi Covis, Kelsey Schmitt and Ari Smith.
Barker 4, Roy-Hart 0
BARKER — Last week, coach Jeff Costello and the Lady Raiders suffered their first Niagara-Orleans League defeat in eight years, at the expense of Kenmore East.
Barker quickly got back on the right track on Tuesday afternoon. The Lady Raiders used goals from four different scorers to notch a 4-0 win over Roy-Hart in an N-O contest.
Gabby Clare scored with less than six minutes remaining in the first half to make the score 1-0 at intermission, while Heather Mason, Olivia Denny and Lydia Dewart rounded out the scoring after the break. Clare also assisted on Mason's goal.
Caitlyn Mason and Courtney Bodine shared the shutout in net for the Lady Raiders, who conclude the regular season at 11-1 in league play, earning the N-O title by a half-game over Kenmore East.
Roy-Hart drops to 1-11 in the league, and will likely play at Barker in a Class C quarterfinal matchup next Tuesday.
Wilson 5, Medina 0
WILSON — The Lakewomen jumped out to a 3-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 5-0 victory, in the N-O regular season finale for both teams on Tuesday afternoon.
Wilson finishes the regular season at 5-7 in the league, while Medina falls to 2-10, as the teams prepare for their Class C postseason openers next Tuesday.
Akron 1, Kenmore East 1 (OT)
TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Kaeli Mathias scored for Kenmore, while Sarah Schultz scored for Akron, as the two N-O schools battled to a 1-1 tie in the season finale on Tuesday afternoon.
Akron finishes the regular season at 8-3-1, while Kenmore East is 10-1-1.
With the tie and Barker's win, Kenmore East loses the N-O title by a half-game, as Barker finished at 11-1.