Tom Cashmore has been the East Aurora girls soccer coach for 13 years. His Blue Devils have won nine ECIC IV titles but he says of this year's squad, "This is the best team I've ever had."
East Aurora has been on top of the small school poll for most of the season. The Blue Devils are unbeaten in their last 12 games. They've outscored the opposition, 65-8, including 58-2 during a 12-0 season in ECIC IV. And they have nine shutouts.
Cashmore credits much of the success to a defense that came together during a 1-1 tie with defending Class D state champion Ellicottville. Senior Carolyn Whitcomb, the only returning player on defense, classmates Libby Reed and Brittany Gagliardo, and junior Greta Sowyrda forged a unit that hasn't given up a goal since the Ellicottville game, helping sophomore goalie Samantha Stanley collect 10 shutouts. That's been part of a 11-0-1 run which followed a 3-3 start.
Ask Cashmore about his team's scoring ability, and he sounds genuinely overwhelmed. The attack is "wicked," the scoring from different positions "unbelievable."
Senior forward Jessica Holbrook has scored 15 goals while freshman twins Jessica (14) and Sarah Tarantino (12) -- who interchange between midfield and forward -- have combined for 26. The midfield features junior Kelly Reuter (six goals), senior Danielle Kelly (who unleashes a dangerous flip throw-in) and senior assist leader Hannah Caraotta. The offense is so lethal that during a 6-0 win over Tonawanda, EA scored five goals off headers.
The Blue Devils' losses came to Frontier (2-1 in the first game of the year), large school power Williamsville East (1-0) and Nichols (3-2), which EA later beat.
Cashmore has the perfect reminder for his team not to look ahead: last year the Blue Devils rolled to the ECIC IV title, only to lose in the semifinals to league rival Alden, which went to the state final four.
Lehner's back all right
Looks like Andrea Lehner's back is doing just fine.
The Orchard Park junior, who entered the season planning to cut back on training to alleviate the pain from two herniated disks, set a Section VI record in the 100-yard backstroke last week.
Lehner's time of 58.08 seconds, the only sub-minute time in Section VI, came during the Quakers' 114-69 dual meet victory over Williamsville North last Tuesday. That broke the mark of 58.32 set by East Aurora's Carol Girvin in 1994. Lehner, who also owns the Section VI records in the 50, 100 and 500 freestyle, took the summer off from swimming due to her back injury.
Kenmore East has been one of the dominant teams in the Niagara Frontier League, but the Bulldogs had never sent a representative to the state tennis tournament until senior Katie McInerney and sophomore Brittany Walters won the sectional doubles championship.
"They were a great team," said East coach David Coates. "I'd go out there in between sets, and they'd say, 'Don't worry about it coach, we've got it under control.' "
Walters played first singles during the season. McInerney played first doubles after missing the first half of her year with an ankle injury suffered in the first match.
With the singles victory by sophomore Lauren Bates of Kenmore West, Kenmore swept the sectional championships. Bates won the singles final against record-setting seventh-grader Tina Miller of Williamsville North, who became the first seventh-grader to make the Section VI singles final two weeks after becoming the first seventh-grader to win the ECIC title.
The sectional girls tennis tournament's first trip to the Southern Tier was very well-received. More than 150 fans filled bleachers at the Lakewood YMCA for the finals.
Coates also lauded the Jamestown tournament organizers. "Everything was first class," he said, before adding with a laugh: "Anytime you win a championship, it's worth the trip."
Around the halls
* Grand Island's soccer programs were mentioned on these pages last week for having an abundance of siblings (and wins). Kenmore West's girls -- who tied GI late in the season -- will try to advance in the Class AA bracket behind starting sisters Catherine (senior defender) and Shauna (freshman midfielder) Brennan and Jordan (freshman midfielder) and Jenna (an eighth-grader who leads the team with six goals) Rickan. Jackie Rickan, a junior forward, is out with a knee injury.
* Lew-Port took four of the Niagara Frontier League's eight berths for the Section VI golf championships (to be played next spring) at the league's championship at Willowbrook on Oct. 12. Medalist Jason Polka (74) will be joined by Joe Bartos, Josh Flock and Joe Cosentino.