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A new dominator looms in girls field hockey 44 saves speaks well for goalie in her first season

NEWFANE -- See if you've heard this story before.

A hockey team with lots of potential for future success winning games it perhaps should not win, simply because it has a dominating presence between the pipes.

But this is not a retrospective look at how the Buffalo Sabres managed to win division and conference titles during the Dominik Hasek years.

This is a story of a young dominator named Kayla Carrasquillo, who in her first season as goalie for the Newfane varsity field hockey team has proven the adage that goaltending wins hockey games.

The 5-foot-7-inch high school junior turned aside 44 shots in a 2-1 overtime win over Niagara-Orleans League rival Wilson.

Forty-four saves? In a sport where a shot on goal is sometimes cause for celebration? Something seems a bit fishy?

"I'm figuring they're fairly correct," said longtime Panthers coach Katy Stedman, who is one of several coaches in the N-O who has a volunteer scorekeeper. "That is crazy to have that many shots [against]. We do play some tough defense. [That game] was an exception."

While Stedman and her Wilson counterpart -- first-year coach Alyssa Boron -- discussed the correctness of the saves total last Monday morning, the home team's statistics from a game are typically considered the official ones in scholastic sports. Since Newfane was the home team, the final saves count stands upon further review. Wilson didn't keep its own stats during the contest, Boron said.

Boron told The Buffalo News last week that she's still not sure about the accuracy of the final saves count -- she estimated Wilson fired about 30 shots -- but Carrasquillo's performance was indisputable in a game that the Lakewomen controlled for the most part against a Newfane team that has just four seniors on its roster.

"We couldn't get anything but a goal," said Boron, whose team rallied for a 2-2 tie in an earlier season meeting with the Panthers. "The shots were right on goal. We just couldn't get it past her and when we did, the defense knocked the ball away [before it crossed the goal line]."

Busy games between the pipes aren't anything new for Carrasquillo. She made 23 saves in a 1-0 win over a Roy-Hart crew that earlier this season tied defending league champion Barker. She also made 40 saves in a 3-0 loss to Barker.

"It's crazy. I wouldn't think I'd be able to do that much [to give the team a chance to win] but just seeing the results, I know that I can," said Carrasquillo, who earned the starting job after two seasons on junior varsity and worked out a few times during the summer with Newfane graduate and current Mercyhurst College goalie Jen Coleman.

"It's really rewarding to know I contributed that much to a win," Carrasquillo said. "It's really surprising when I stop that many shots. It doesn't seem like that many when you're playing."

Especially if the goalie happens to be in the zone.

Carrasquillo is successful because of her work ethic and because she is willing to use her size to her advantage. She aggressively challenges shooters, basically daring them to beat her with a shot in one-on-one situations. But her physical abilities aren't her only on-field attributes that have helped Newfane to a 5-3-1 mark through last Tuesday's 3-2 win at Medina.

"She tells kids to mark up [on defense] and leave her the shot," Stedman said. "She's like the quarterback of our team like any goalie should be, directing the players in the circle. That's a lot to do and keep track of the ball."

e-mail: mrodriguez@buffnews.com

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