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Sunday invitational match points to return of girls Exceptional Seniors Game

Even as Buffalo-area girls soccer players have been recruited to elite schools such as Florida State, Ohio State and West Virginia, several local NCAA Division III programs have struggled to fill out their rosters. The composite record for 2017 among the area's five D-3 women's sides was an abysmal 19-59-7, which looks even uglier if you remove D'Youville's 8-7-4 mark.

The return of the high school girls Exceptional Seniors Game, absent since 2012 due largely to scattered interest levels and significant administrative challenges, is a step toward helping local college coaches in their recruiting - both in terms of quality and quantity.

Billed as the Medaille Sports Management Girls Invitational, the match runs from 9 to 11 a.m. Dec. 10 in Sahlen Sports Park (7070 Seneca St., Elma). Sahlen's Field 1 will be the setting for the 8 vs. 8 scrimmage, which will run for 90 minutes. There is no cost for spectators to attend.

Villa Maria College head men's coach Tim Kronenwetter, a driving force behind the annual boys game, spearheaded the effort to organize this event in a tight, two-week window, while Akron High School coach Ed Apholz is credited with helping make the contest a reality.

Here are the rosters, with senior season high school soccer statistics, if available, in parentheses:

BLUE TEAM

Coaches: Ed Apholz, Akron High School; Doug Curella, Clarence Soccer Club

Goalkeeper Clare Byrne, Hamburg (55 saves, just five goals allowed)

Goalkeeper Laurie Poeller, Akron (137 saves, 13 goals allowed)

Goalkeeper Emma Zielinski, Nardin

No. 2: Maggie Leeds, Akron midfielder (eight goals, eight assists)

No. 3: Julia Wartinger, Akron defender (one goal, one assist)

No. 4: Natalie DiCureia, Albion defender (one goal, two assists)

No. 5: Meaghan Murray, Iroquois defender

No. 6: Samantha Diamond, Williamsville North forward (six goals, 10 assists)

No. 7: Emily Foltz, Newfane midfielder (26 goals, 11 assists)

No. 8: Leah Frank, Springville midfielder-forward (three goals, five assists)

No. 9: Heather Henderson, Tonawanda defender (one goal, three assists)

No. 10: Cynthia Boncaldo, Orchard Park defender (one goal, one assist)

No. 11: Taylor Hollock, Tonawanda midfielder-forward (13 goals, nine assists)

No. 12: Leah Shanahan, Iroquois defender (one goal, two assists)

No. 13: Maddy Donovan, Iroquois defender (two assists)

No. 14: Kaitlyn Bulega, Holland forward

*****

RED TEAM

Coaches: Scott MacLean, Orchard Park Soccer Club, Soccer Home; Will Lange, Orchard Park Soccer Club; Sal Rine, BDSL: Honey Badgers

Goalkeeper Grace Fabian, Clarence (109 saves, five goals allowed)

Goalkeeper Alyssa Lutz, Orchard Park (111 saves, 15 goals allowed)

No. 2: Abby King, Holland midfielder-forward (10 goals, 16 assists)

No. 3: Emma Maxson, Hamburg defender (four goals)

No. 4: Jena Schelble, Springville forward (27 goals, five assists)

No. 5: MacKenzie O'Brien, Akron defender (one goal, three assists)

No. 6: Katie Hummel, Alden midfielder-forward (11 goals, five assists)

No. 7: Jillian Jeziorski, Alden midfielder-forward (six goals, two assists)

No. 8: Bailey Ross, Frontier defender-midfielder (three goals, three assists)

No. 9: Hope Balling, Tonawanda forward (27 goals, 21 assists)

No. 10: Chloe Benz, Cheektowaga midfielder (one assist)

No. 11: Maddy Scull, Holland midfielder (four goals, three assists)

No. 12: Olivia Welton, Orchard Park defender (one assist)

No. 13: Talia Mangano, Springville defender

No. 14: Taylor Gehen, Frontier forward (11 goals, one assist)

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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