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EA, Kenmore West win sectional titles Tarantino scores two to upset No. 1 Will East

If you were looking for the Class A girls soccer champions Saturday night, all you needed to do was look for the girl raising her heavily bandaged arm in the air and signaling who was No. 1.

That was East Aurora's Sarah Tarantino, who despite a broken bone in her left arm scored two goals to help the Blue Devils to a 2-1 victory over previously undefeated and season-long, top-ranked large school Williamsville East.

Tarantino wasn't Saturday's only two-goal hero for a sectional champion with the Blue Devil as their mascot. Jenna Rickan of Kenmore West also had a championship-caliber performance, scoring twice as West won the school's first sectional girls soccer title with a 3-0 victory over North Tonawanda in the Class AA final.

East Aurora (18-4) and Kenmore West (17-3-2) will be back at Dimp Wagner Field for next Saturday's Far West Regionals against the Section V (Rochester area) winners for the right to go to the state final four.

Tarantino, a senior, scored twice in the first 10 minutes of the second half to stun defending champion Williamsville East (19-1-2).

After a scoreless first half, it took just 57 seconds for EA and Tarantino to strike. A cross by Jessica Tarantino, Sarah's twin sister, from the right wing put Sarah in a scramble in front of the net and Sarah managed to get a leg on it and the ball rolled in the left side of the goal.

Less than eight minutes later, with 31:53 left in the second half, Sarah Tarantino received a pass from Liz Palaschak on the right side of the 18-yard line and with her back to the goal. She chested it to her feet, swung her right foot around and unleashed a high-arcing shot which grazed the post as it sailed into the top right corner.

"We knew we were the underdog, but we didn't come in here scared," said Sarah Tarantino. "We knew we could do it if we just played our best, and that's what we did. I didn't really feel that it was on me, but I knew our team together had to do it. The opportunities came to me, and I knew I had to do it if they came to me."

As for the arm, "I broke it in the last game on a handball. Now I have to run around with this thing on."

East Aurora was ranked second behind East among large schools; EA was a small school in Class B last year.

Jenny Griffin scored for Williamsville East with 17:39 left to bring her team within one and set a school record for goals in a season with 25 (Sherrie Harrishburg had 24 in 1996). East had some late chances but the EA defense repeatedly cleared them away.

"I'm really proud of this team -- I never expected to have such a successful season and get back here the way we have," said Chris Durr. "You just can't give up goals like that."

The AA game pitted teams which had split 1-0 meetings during the Niagara Frontier League season and the first half was a fittingly tense, scoreless battle. NT (17-5) had some early chances in the first five minutes before the Jenna Rickan Show started.

About five minutes after she hit the crossbar on a powerful free kick from about 45 yards away, Rickan scored her first goal. Eighth-grader Lexi Panepinto moved a high ball forward down the right wing for Rickan. After a high bounce, Rickan put her body into a powerful header that went over the head of onrushing goalie Lauren Lipinoga and into the net.

Rickan's second goal was another header off a corner kick from senior Shauna Brennan. Rickan also set up the third goal with some fancy footwork at midfield, starting a play that ended with Cristina Ippolito sailing a high shot into the back left corner from the right wing.

"I knew I had to score -- people get me the ball and my job is to score," said Rickan, a junior who has 24 goals. "It's an amazing feeling."

It was the 12th shutout for Kenmore West goalie Kirsty Webb in front of a defense bolstered by Jordan Rickan (Jenna's sister), Mary Clark, Gina Falcone and Paige Bouley.

"They were superior today," coach Jen Gilham said of her defense. "I'm so proud of them. They knew their marks and they weren't going to allow anything to happen back there."

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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