Fredonia girls soccer coach Brett Gould's strategy for the Class B-2 championship game was pretty simple: Respect the other team's talent, and let your top talent lead the way.
In the case of Thursday's game, that meant trying to corral Wilson senior Kayla Neumann, while letting Fredonia sophomore Laural Erick do her thing on offense.
The game plan worked.
Behind Erick's 35th goal of the season, second-seeded Fredonia (16-2) held off fifth-seeded Wilson (11-6-2) for a 1-0 win and the program's first Section VI title since 2006.
The Hillbillies move on to the overall Class B Regional Qualifier on Tuesday at Williamsville North at 5:30 p.m. against B-1 champion Newfane. Junior Kayleigh Daniels scored two goals for the No. 3-seeded Panthers (14-2) as they handled No. 5 East Aurora (9-9) in the nightcap, 3-0, for its first sectional championship since 2012.
"Laural's the kind of kid that, she's a great track athlete too, and I think you saw that tonight," Gould said on the Williamsville North turf. "You put her on a surface like this and try to stay with her, the other team just has to have somebody that quick. … It doesn't work. She's just fast. She's going to run away from you.
"The best players play their best games on the biggest stage, and you saw that out of her tonight."
Erick broke the scoreless game with 16:05 left in the first half when she knifed through the defense and slipped a shot past a diving Emily Kelly for Wilson.
"She's a handful," Wilson coach Thomas Baia said. "We had our best marking defender on her and she got through a couple times. We did some good things to try to make it difficult for her, but great players do great things, and she did."
Gould wasn’t surprised Thursday's final score ended up being so close. He's been preparing his team for a game like this the whole week in practice.
"We've talked all year about being a team that just stays composed," Gould said, "and I’ve told them all week long, 'part of winning this means you're going to have to be willing to play in a tight match.' These aren’t 4-1, 5-1 games usually in championship matches.
"It's composure, it's smarts, it's communication. And they did that."
Aside from the first 15 and last 15 minutes of the match, the Hillbillies made life difficult for Wilson’s top-offensive threat Neumann.
"They jammed up the middle and we tried getting it through to the outside and bringing it back in," Baia said, "but they were quick to penetrate us on the outside too."
Meanwhile, Newfane took advantage of its speed and strong possession game to stifle East Aurora.
"We know we have a lot of speed in the center and the outsides, and our strongest point is the center," Panthers coach Chelsea Buzyniski said. "So we like to start in the center, get it wide, get it back in and then get it off. It's kind of what we've been playing all year and that's what they're used to."
Daniels' first goal came with 3:23 left in the first half on a left-bending kick to the upper-right corner of the net from about 20 yards away. She then buried a breakaway 4:35 into the second half to bring the advantage to two. Sophomore Megan Knoll added some insurance with a goal on another breakaway with 12:13 left in the game.
"Regular season play, she's had her goals but nothing compared to last year," Buzyniski said about Daniels. "For sectionals she's really stepped it up and really proven herself that she is the leading scorer and one of the best players on this team."