BUFFALO — It wasn't easy for the Medina boys soccer team at All High Stadium on Friday afternoon.
Throughout most of the game, the Lafayette team attacked the Mustangs with bursts of offense and plenty of chances near the net. At times, players, coaches and fans (on both sides) got worked up about the officiating. Early in the second half, a mini-hailstorm wreaked havoc on the turf field.
It was a scrappy game, the type that veteran Medina coach Steve Luksch has come to expect when the playoffs roll around.
But the Mustangs did just enough, coming up with a late first-half goal to grab some momentum, scoring off a throw-in early in the second half, and holding on for a 2-1 victory over No. 3 Lafayette in a Class B-1 semifinal game. No. 2 Medina advances to play No. 1 Newfane (for the third time this season) on Thursday evening at Hamburg High School. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
"I'm proud of the group," Luksch said. "From the beginning, our goal was to get back to the finals, and we got it done. Today was a pretty intense game, and it's a pretty big accomplishment."
After the teams battled to a 0-0 tie for most of the first half on a cold and windy October afternoon, the Mustangs struck first in the final minute of the half. The goal was generated via intensity and a refusal to let up, as Luksch urged his team to win a 50/50 ball off a Lafayette goal kick with about 90 seconds left in the half.
Medina came away with the ball, drove downfield, and was awarded a corner kick from the left side with about a minute remaining. Junior Steven Anderson took the kick, and the ball was deflected out of bounds off a Lafayette player. Anderson was awarded another corner kick, this time from the right side, and Ben Howell jumped up to knock the ball into the net with his head.