By Dave Ricci
Special to The News
It’s top seed versus top seed for all the marbles.
Jack Bean and Bryce Schiltz scored two goals each as top-seed East Aurora scored a 6-0 win over No.2 Starpoint in the Section VI Class A-2 championship game Thursday.
In the nightcap at Sweet Home High School, David Bilek’s four goals helped top-seed Grand Island beat No. 7 Kenmore West, 7-1, in the Class A-1 title game.
East Aurora will now face Grand Island in the overall ‘A’ title game Wednesday, Nov. 1, again at Sweet Home.
This marks the sixth sectional title (two Class A, four Class B) in the last seven years for East Aurora and a bit of redemption for them after losing the B-1 title game to I-Prep last year.
“We had a little run going, five in a row, then I-Prep, obviously a good team, ended our streak,” East Aurora coach Kevin Beale said.
“So we came back, and as a group they just exploded in different ways this year.”
For the average observer, the Blue Devils unblemished 19-0 record is what will jump off the page first. But for the team it isn’t the unbeaten record that they are most proud of, but rather what they did along the way to get to this point.
The Blue Devils, ranked No.2 in Class A in NYSSWA rankings, took a commanding lead midway through the first half when they scored three times during a dominating six-minute stretch.
“It just seemed like everything was clicking today,” Schiltz said.
“Every pass we made was crisp. Once we got the first goal we weren’t letting up.”
Goals by Josh Bean, John Putney and Alex Baase helped East Aurora build a 3-0 lead with 22:16 to play in the first half.
East Aurora’s fourth goal of the half highlighted the skill and precision of their offense as Baase served the ball to Dennis Ryan who headed the ball by Starpoint goalie Adam Rankie.
“It feels great to be back,” Bryce Schiltz said.
“Because personally my freshman and sophomore years we won the section and we almost took it for granted that we’d just win sectional titles. It makes it feel a lot better coming in and getting the job done.”
For the Spartans, this game was a chance to gain some retribution after dropping their season opener to East Aurora, 1-0, in their only meeting this season. But it wasn’t to be.
The Blue Devils defense did an outstanding job of containing Starpoint’s top threat Max Balko who entered the game with 14 goals.
Offensively, East Aurora came at Starpoint goalie Adam Rankie in waves and never let up.
“Our coach told us just keep pushin. Just keep moving the ball,” East Aurora’s Josh Bean said. “We were positive, and that helped a lot.”
#nflbrotherhood was the motto of the second game as it featured two teams from the Niagara Frontier League.
The win makes it three straight Class A-1 titles for the Vikings, who lost nine starters to graduation from last year’s state runner-up squad. This season was about the process of guys adapting to bigger roles.
“It’s a real testament to them,” Grand Island coach Frank Butcher said.
“You can put athletes in positions to succeed and they don’t always listen. They don’t always follow through with the work. These guys put in the work. They showed up every day and it paid off. The improvement from the beginning of the year to the end of the year is incredible.”
Bilek, an exchange student from the Czech Republic, now leads the Vikings with 13 goals. He scored twice in each half.
“It’s amazing. I’m so glad we won,” said Bilek, who set up GI’s third goal.
“I was kind of nervous today, but from the first minute we dominated the game.”
Kenmore West’s lone goal was scored by Jack Reilly off a Noah Fisk corner kick with 3:30 left in the first half.