It’s hard to miss Akron’s Abby Stone when she’s out on the field. She’s usually the one getting double- and sometimes triple-teamed.
Yet the four-time All-Western New York first team member led the area in goals scored with 26 as a senior and was a critical piece in the Tigers reaching the NYSPHSAA semifinals for the first time since head coach Mary Borden took over the program in 2003.
“To describe her in one word, all opposing coaches would say 'power,'” Borden said. “She’s going D-I in softball and her power is evident all over the field. She’s not an attack player and she still led Section VI in goals per game. When she drives the ball, it’s a blistering shot, and her speed and advanced stick work are an absolute force.”
Stone is a three-time All-WNY first team softball player who’ll be taking her talents to St. Bonaventure next year, but her impact isn’t only felt when it comes to athletics.
Stone and her Akron softball teammates were recognized in July as the 2017 NYSPHSAA Community Service Challenge Champion for their “Just DOnate It!” project that sent more than 7,500 pounds of softball equipment to the Dominican Republic. The student-athletes visited the town of Bani in January for three days to distribute the equipment, teach the game of softball and develop a plan to build a league in the community. Return trips are planned for 2018 and 2019.
“She’s just this incredibly unassuming, giving young lady,” Borden said. “She devotes a lot of energy to promote the welfare of others. She just has this incredible capacity to see the big picture both in athletics and humanity. She has an internship at the hospital everyday and wants to study in the medical field.”
Akron junior Olivia Diebel joined Stone on the first team. It’s her first All-WNY selection after being named to the All-Niagara-Orleans League second team as a sophomore.
“We had 77 goals for and seven against heading into the state tournament and nine games were shutouts,” Borden said. “I think Abby and Olivia at center back were the top duo in Western New York. Not only is Abby such a powerful threat, but she’s a border. Other teams couldn’t generate an attack. They just shut down play from the center of the field.”
Sacred Heart senior Kayla Blas capped her five-year career by being named the Western New York Player of the Year by area coaches. Her national playing experience is extensive and includes being selected for the STX Select training camp this December. It’s for the top 35 athletes in the U19 age group and serves as the final tryout for the U19 USA Junior National Team.
Iroquois senior Holly Stiller joins Stone and Blas as the three repeat selections. She is considered one of the top defenders in the area, and the four-year starter was also trusted to be the last shooter if games went into shootouts.
Stiller will join Williamsville East senior Hannah Nurse at Slippery Rock University next season. Nurse, a goalie, didn’t lose via shootout in all four years on the varsity squad. She was named to the second team last year.
Williamsville East's Holly Schmelzer tied the school record for goals in a season even though she missed a handful of games due to ice hockey commitments, but she’s most proud of the fact that this year’s team became the first in program history to reach a sectional final.
Casey Adimey led Amherst with 14 goals and 19 assists and scored 60 goals in her four-year career. She was on the second team last year and will play ice hockey at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Williamsville South junior Elisabeth Sidorski is a three-sport standout, spending five years on the ice hockey team and four years on the lacrosse team. Sidorski and senior teammate Marnie Reidell both completed their fourth seasons on the field hockey team. Reidell was a USA Field Hockey Futures Nationals member.
Sweet Home’s Renee Lauer also plays ice hockey and lacrosse for the Panthers and was a four-year starter in field hockey. Beating South in the opening game of the season was the most memorable game for her and junior teammate Riley Kromer. Kromer won the Junior Premier Outdoor League with the WNY Whalers club program.
Williamsville North’s Team MVP Erin Roland moved up from honorable mention status as the Spartans went 18-0 against Western New York competition and won their third sectional title in a row.
Like Roland, Barker sophomore Katrina Clare has been a three-year starter since eighth grade. Her favorite moment was beating rival Akron in overtime during the regular season.
Clarence’s Gabrielle Walsh scored three goals and had four assists from her right forward position this season. She’s hopeful on attending Boston University in the fall.