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Great play on the pitch, not in stands

I covered four Section VI soccer championships Saturday at Amherst High School. It was a well-run event with great games, awesome performances, unbelievable goals, great saves and, for the most part, outstanding sportsmanship.

What I should have been talking about after all that great stuff was:

*How the Williamsville North boys, with their size, strength and skill, certainly looked like a team that deserves to be ranked 19th in the country by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (new rankings are due out today). North's 2-1 win over Clarence put them in a highly anticipated regional against Rochester's best, where local teams are usually the underdog.

*How entertaining it was to watch the Clarence boys move the ball around so quickly, most notably by the fast feet of Tyler Hamill.

*How great a story the Iroquois boys' 2-0 win over Williamsville East in Class A was, a that's-why-they-play-the-games contest if there ever was one. East won the ECIC II title by beating Iroquois by a combined 6-0 this year. Peter Wilson scored two brilliant goals for the Chiefs, an impossible-angle long cross from the right wing and big-time rocket shot from outside the 18-yard line in the final minutes. Goalie Greg Monte made an outstanding save by sweeping across the goalmouth late when it was still a one-goal contest.

*How great the sportsmanship was in the East-Iroquois game. A great tough-angle save by Iroquois' Monte was acknowledged with a hand slap by the player who had the great shot, East's Matt Kweller. There was also a near collision between a forward and the East goalie, and afterward the players again realized they were just playing hard and slapped hands.

*How Jenna Rickan of the Kenmore West girls did it all, from using her strength to hit the crossbar on a free kick more than 40 yards away, using her height to head in two goals, and still having great skills to keep a ball glued to her feet in traffic at midfield to start a play that scored West's third goal in its 3-0 Class AA win over North Tonawanda. That was the 12th shutout for Melissa Pawlowski (I'm issuing myself a yellow card for getting the goalie's name wrong in my story).

*How the Tarantino twins did their throw-themselves-all-over-the-field thing for East Aurora in a 2-1 Class A upset of Williamsville East. Sarah Tarantino scored two goals despite a broken bone in her left forearm, while on the opposite wing Jessica also tenaciously pressured the East defense all game. It wasn't surprising to see; I witnessed the Tarantinos' floor burn-filled run to a state basketball title last year.

*How Williamsville East senior co-captain Jenny Griffin nearly willed her team out of the 2-0 deficit herself, scoring once and helping create the Flames' best chances late in the game.

However, when friends and co-workers asked how my day of soccermania went, the first story I told was, regrettably, about some adults who insisted on acting like children.

During the Williamsville North game, some adult fans chose to watch the game along the fence, in front of a bleacher full of spirited Clarence fans. I was located nearby in the press box, and although I certainly didn't hear everything that was said all afternoon, I didn't hear anything inappropriate coming from the large section of black-and-red-clad boosters. For the most part it seemed like a boisterous -- but fun -- bunch.

With North leading, 2-0, in the second half, an adult female fan of North walked up into the bleachers and created a scene by starting an argument with a young female Clarence fan. After a few moments of the two women exchanging heated words, some other adults stepped in and the North fan left the bleachers.

Now, I certainly don't know what was said from the stands to prompt the trip up there, but what is it that adults are always telling kids about sticks and stones? Unless there is a dire situation that needs attending to, there's no need for confrontations. What happened Saturday is that a situation was caused by an adult going into the bleachers.

With tension in the air, a few moments later another North adult decided not to act his age. The man took a moment away from his video camera to take a couple of steps toward the Clarence fans and say that some North player "did what your whole team couldn't do . . . and that's score a goal!"

Which ranks as one of the most ridiculous things I've seen an adult do at a high school event. Student-athletes, keep up the good work. Adults, you've got some work to do.

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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