It was the end of an emotionally taxing week for many in the Buffalo District Soccer League, but several matches were barn burners on an entertaining Sunday of soccer.
Perhaps the most moving image of the weekend was Soho FC's remembrance of Chris Pepper, who died early last week from cancer, with these No. 7 jerseys.
Every match featured a moment of silence in the seventh minute to remember Pepper's dedication to local soccer and close ties with dozens of individuals in the league. Here are the scores from Week 4:
Amherst Sharpshooters 4, BSC Raiders 3
Quick sum: What a match. Sharpshooters looked in total control, building a 4-0 lead behind a hat-trick from Regan Steele, who was a one-man wrecking crew, at times, with 40 or 50-yard solo rushes forward posing problems for Raiders' midfield and defense.
BSC Raiders didn't quit, though, as goals from Kendell McFayden, Kyle Westerholt and Ryan Walter narrowed the deficit to one, and the reigning champions threw numbers forward for several set pieces in the waning moments. If this is a teaser for the BDSL premier final, we could be in for a special finish to the season.
Soho FC 5, FC Yemen 1
Quick sum: With their Pepper United t-shirts on, Soho FC conceded first but responded with authority, scoring five unanswered behind a brace from tidy finisher Ryan Mangano and two assists each from Andy Tiedt and Pablo Ordonez.
Tiedt, Ordonez and Austin Tom added single tallies in a thumping that left Taha Omar's team ruing several no-shows in the lineup. On a hot day at Nichols (not unlike a cold night in Stoke), it was the younger side that fell apart in the second half.
Roos FC 5, Yemen Elite 5
Quick sum: Both defenses struggled mightily in the first premier match to combine for 10 goals this year. With Elite protecting what seemed to be a comfortable 3-1 lead in the second half, an Anthony Pellicano goal, followed by two Sam Greco-to-Alex Reid strikes, including a beautiful dipping shot by the Daemen striker that tucked just under the crossbar, put Roos in front, 4-3.
A close-range finish from Elite's Sami Kassem briefly knotted the score before Greco responded with a quick near-post flick with the outside of his foot from a driven James Knapp corner. Yemen Elite captain Mateo Escobar dropped a set piece over the Roos wall and into the left corner from 18 yards out to level a match that was low in positional discipline but high in fireworks.
Clarence Yotes 2, Rogue FC 1
Quick sum: Early-season darlings Rogue FC finally met their match, as Clarence rode goals from Gary Boughton and Andrea Conte, plus strong play from Kenny May and J.J. Hughes, to victory. The losing side had a hard time coping with the late scratch of captain Zack Thomas, who's more or less the team's metronome, while C.J. Scirto tallied his first goal of the season (while also picking up his league-leading third yellow card).
Rogue keeper Alex Bratos stopped a penalty, but it was ageless GK Len Previte's squad that took the three points. Perhaps Kyle Kleckner's return for Rogue after the break will swing the tide again. You can read an amusing match report on the BDSL forum from Yotes' David Martinez here.
Queenston FC 4, BUSS 0
Quick sum: All is not well for BUSS, which drops to 1-3 before the Memorial Day Weekend break, while Queenston jumps into a three-way tie for third with their second-straight lopsided scoreline. Quick, pesky George Todino scored twice for Parliament, while John Netter kept the sheet clean. There's no question that the availability of Ross Suitor makes this side much, much better.
BUSS was unlucky not to have Richie Wilson or Kyle Clifford, its two most lethal finishers, but supplemental scoring has been nonexistent. For BUSS to protect themselves from relegation, more is needed from names like Miguel Rumbo and Mate Tarr (who missed Sunday's loss), who both have a history of production in the BDSL.
Celtic United 3, BSC Inter 1
Quick sum: Sometimes it's nice to be proven wrong. In this case, it's when I thought St. Bonaventure's Nikko Richards wouldn't solve United's offensive woes, and then he finds the back of the net in his debut. His Bonnies teammate Mitch Skrabacz and Fredonia midfielder Brian Theuerkauf also tallied, as Celtic United's first win of the season lifts them out of the relegation zone, at least for now.
Inter's situation looks more and more dire by the week. They're not threatening in the final third, and aside from steady center back Ross Karipidis, they're not helping out keeper Brian Arcara very much in the back. News of Nate Holler's injury-plagued spring is even more foreboding for a team that could use his athleticism to create chances and wear down defenses.
Rangers 4, East Aurora FC 0
Quick sum: It's no longer a foregone conclusion that East Aurora is going to roll through the championship division. After Polonia shocked the white-and-blue in the opener, Rangers thoroughly stomped EAFC, behind two more goals from on-fire striker Dominic Parisi and a clean sheet from Bobby Weigand. Parisi's seven goals are tied with Beast City's Noah Keem for most in the BDSL so far this year.
Center back Jimmy Nesper earned Rangers' man of the match, helping shutdown the Joe Vucic-Parker Healy-Ryan Keller triumvirate and adding two assists himself.
Buffalo Bantu 4, Buffalo Celtic 1
Quick sum: It was the Yakub Mohamed show on Sunday, as it took only 90 minutes for the Bantu striker to surpass his entire goal total from 2015. Buffalo Celtic is reeling, sitting at 0-4 with only one goal for so far. Bantu's addition of former Lykan goalie Jason Kuczmanski has been a boon for a team that needed a veteran presence in goal.
Southtowns FPFC 3, Lykan 0
Quick sum: The absence of starting keeper Bobby McGinnis certainly didn't help, but Lykan suffered its first loss, in resounding fashion, to Southtowns FPFC (formerly Lakeshore). Goals from Phil Pinzone, Rob Booker and Will Lange were enough for the scrappy winners.
Whether or not Lykan is really on the rebound, or merely the beneficiaries of a fairly forgiving schedule to begin the season, will be determined in their next two matches against Bantu and OP Alliance. The two-week break will be good for the healing of Dan Matuszak's forearm, as he's a critical piece to their puzzle.
Niagara FC 1, OP Alliance 0
Quick sum: For a team so potent offensively in first division last year, OP Alliance has been dismal in the attack this summer, striking for just one goal in 360 minutes. Where are you, Ryan McMaster and Conner Saeli?
Liam McIntosh notched the winner for Niagara FC in a match-up of the two youngest teams (by far) in the division. Assuming their attendance improves, Niagara FC is a team to watch as the season progresses.
Lakeside 3, Celtic Hoops 2
Quick sum: It's a case of Jekyll and Hyde with Lakeside, which has won its last two after dropping the first pair of matches this summer. Hoops have been leaky defensively -- a division-high 15 goals against -- and the Lakeside attacking trio of Anthony Domenico, Andrew Brobbey and Stephen Acheampong isn't one to be taken lightly. Hoops' two red cards on the season (Nicclas Andrews, Tom Stefanucci) are the most in first division.
Wolfpack 1, Polonia 0
Quick sum: Wolfpack are the kings of grind-it-out wins. Quietly, they had one of the strongest offseasons in the division, bringing on Eric Russell from Lazio, Kevin Castine from Chelsea, Scott Berardi from Catan and Austin Meier, who was previously unattached. The rest of the team is hard-nosed, and Anthony Appiani is one of the more underrated players in the division. Rangers vs. Wolfpack will be a fun one June 5.
Polonia, beset by injuries, has fizzled after a quick start. While a rather surprising summoning to championship may not have been in the club's best interest, they'll have to fight tooth and nail to stay up this season. Colin Allen wasn't the most reliable in attendance, but Polonia severely miss his two-way play this summer.
Panthers 1, Catan 0
Beast City FC 7, Depew Village 2
RVS United 4, Alden 3
SPAL Buffalo 3, Williamsville Willies 3
Buffalo Gunners 9, Nickel City Wanderers 1
Elmwood Saints 1, Hamburg Monarchs 0
FC Quake 3, Amherst Alliance 1
FC Yemen II 4, Meerkats 2
PLYSA Toros 4, DSC Buffalo 0
Pendleton United 1, WNY United Reds 1
Tonawanda United 3, Cheektowaga 0
Rampart FC 4, Buffalo Blizzard 1
Celtic 1888 2, Ukraine 1
West Side FC 2, Crimson Fire 2
FK Bosnia 4, Devils 2
Dutch FC 6, Celtic Classic 3
Youngstown Marksmen 2, Aurora Arsenal II 1
Great White Buffalo 3, Stone Jug 2
Revolution SC 2, Haz Benz 2
FC Aftershock 6, Rust Belt United 3
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who was sworn at for his driving this afternoon, at firstname.lastname@example.org