Start with offense, finish with aggressive, suffocating defense. That formula allowed the Lafayette boys soccer team to make history Friday night.
After its relentless attack led to a pair of goals in the first 10 minutes of the NYSPHSAA Class D Far West Regionals, Lafayette played ultra-strong defense to secure a 2-1 victory over Section V’s Mount Morris at Spencerport High School. The victory advanced the Mighty Violets to the state semifinals and marked Lafayette’s first-ever regional title, according to eighth-year coach Brad Brodnicki.
In the nightcap of the boys soccer regional doubleheader at Spencerport, East Aurora didn’t have any postseason magic remaining in the tank, losing 3-1 to Pittsford Sutherland in the Class A title tilt.
Lafayette, battling the aftermath of a recent non-approved merger that left it with a dearth of available players, won before a lively fan section that made the jaunt to Rochester.
“It’s unreal,” Brodnicki said. “My team played unbelievably hard. We only have two subs. It’s tough to last through a whole game with only two subs, but these kids are resilient.”
Lafayette went ahead 2-0 early on goals by Harmar Sa and Mee Reh, whose shot ricocheted off a Blue Devils defender and trickled in. Mount Morris’ Colin Brickwood capitalized on a penalty kick just minutes later. But Lafayette’s defense, anchored by Hassan Saddiq, held strong the final 60-plus minutes as Mount Morris had spurts of heavy pressure following a sluggish start.
“My defense has carried us all year,” said Brodnicki, whose squad held Mount Morris (17-3-2) to four shots on target. “And you could see that. Sixty minutes is a long time to sit and play defense but they played great.”
“After we scored early in the first half I thought we could do it,” Saddiq said. “I’m so happy.”
Lafayette’s playoff run is occurring in the wake of a merger issue that reclassified it from Class C to Class D, amidst other ramifications, shortly before the start of sectionals.
The Mighty Violets also forfeited 10 regular-season wins as a result of a combined program application being submitted late and ultimately denied by Section VI. On top of the team rostering players from Lafayette, it also had some from Newcomers Academy at Lafayette, which shares a campus with Lafayette. Newcomers Academy players are now ineligible during the appeals process.
The Mighty Violets will play the winner of Saturday’s matchup between Section X’s Madrid-Waddington and Section VII’s Chazy in the state semifinals, set for 8:30 a.m. Nov. 11 at Middletown High School.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils, who finish up 20-1, competed in their sixth Far West Regional in the last seven years. They got to this championship game in improbable, gusty fashion, forcing overtime in the closing seconds of Wednesday’s Section VI Class A final against Grand Island before winning in the extra session.
There was no such drama Friday from an EA team that played without starters Pat Phillips and Jimmy Tanner, who were both injured in Wednesday’s epic victory.
“We were drained after Wednesday — physically, mentally, emotionally,” Blue Devils coach Kevin Beale said. “In the first half we just didn’t have legs.”
East Aurora nearly took a 1-0 lead into halftime when Bryce Schiltz was stopped on a breakaway by charging goalkeeper Alex Oleyourryk at the end of the opening half. Sutherland proceeded to score three consecutive second-half goals — two by John Mozrall. Collan Zimmerman netted EA’s lone tally in the final minute.