Of all the field hockey teams that made reaching states one of their preseason goals, Barker delivered.
The Raiders were the only team from Section VI to win in the Far West Regional round and move on to the state final four held at Cicero-North Syracuse. In the first round they lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Cazenovia in double overtime in what was a closely matched Class C bracket.
It was their third trip to the state final four in four years. The team finished 17-2 overall and added to its successful season by landing Olivia Denny and Heather Mason on this year’s All-Western New York team.
“We were right there,” said second-year coach Jeff Costello. “The kids obviously they want to win the whole thing, and I want to win the whole thing, but when you get a chance to sit back and look at what you accomplished, it’s very impressive. Look at how many teams would love to be in that spot just once.”
Barker won its first nine games before a 1-0 loss to Kenmore served as a wake-up call. Costello said the team rededicated itself afterward and seemed to play its best field hockey in the postseason, winning four games on turf. Mason in particular elevated her game.
The 14-player All-WNY team – all seniors – was chosen by a panel of area coaches and was based on talent and sportsmanship. There are eight repeat picks.
This could easily be confused with an All-WNY academic team as all but one player is an honor roll student. Kaeli Mathias of Kenmore has a weighted average of 104.5 while her twin sister, Brianna, is close behind at 103. Barker’s Denny is ranked No. 1 in the senior class.
What a memorable season it was for Amherst. The Tigers (19-1) didn’t lose a game until the Far West Regionals, where they bowed to Brighton. They ended the campaign as the No. 1-ranked team in the WNY Coaches Poll, while Laurie LeGoff landed ECIC Coach of the Year honors. The Tigers had the most first team picks on All-WNY with three: Jane Edgington, Taylor Balser and Yanna Boggio. Those players seemed to agree that their most satisfying win was a 1-0 decision in double overtime in the sectional Class B finals.
Section VI titles were won by Clarence (Class A), Amherst (Class B) and Barker (Class C). … Orchard Park eliminated six-time defending Class A champion Williamsville North in the sectional semifinals. … Barker’s crown was its sixth in a row.
Clarence is represented on All-WNY by Gigi Fasanello, whose 17 goals and nine assists led to a 14-4-1 finish and the program’s first title since 1985. Fasanello said her most memorable game was coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Williamsville South, 3-2.
League titles went to Clarence (ECIC I), Williamsville South (ECIC II), Amherst (ECIC III) and Barker (Niagara-Orleans).
Mathias scored the only goal in Kenmore’s 1-0 win over Barker, which snapped their 114-game Niagara-Orleans League winning streak dating to 2005. The combined Kenmore team moved up to Class A for sectionals. Mathias had 60 goals and 26 assists for 86 points the last two seasons.
Iroquois landed two picks, WNY scoring leader Meghan Fonfara and Kirsten Audette. The Chiefs enjoyed a 15-game winning streak and finished 17-2. It’s the second season in a row in which they won 17 games.
Fonfara broke the school record for most goals in a career with 93 and goals in a game with six. Audette led a defense that recorded 14 shutouts, including 11 in a row. Audette is ranked No. 3 academically in the senior class.
There were many highlights for Akron senior Claudia Stone, but none bigger than getting to play a season with her kid sister Abby, an eighth-grader.