> North more than Miller
Williamsville North returns a lot of depth from a squad that made a great charge to the state semifinals last year. In 2003, a senior-laden team lost in the state championship game.
"That's the ultimate goal," North coach Kris LaPaglia said of a state title. "Our mission is not to be the Buffalo Bills," said North coach Kris LaPaglia. "We have two strikes against us."
The Spartans' 4-0 start includes a victory over state Class AA power Whitney Point, a Section IV school located north of Binghamton.
Standout sophomore Chantae Miller has already combined with fellow first-team All-WNYer senior Claire Hourihan (26 goals, 16 assists in 2004) for several scores this year. Junior Ainsley Stoll and Steph Sass are excellent in the midfield while junior Kristin Stone leads the defense in front of sophomore and third-year starting goalie Nicole Lewis.
"Teams have extremely difficult time stopping the attack," said LaPaglia. "My defense is just a solid core of kids, they've been playing together for so many years. It's great to see them jell together as a group."
> Reed leads Iroquois
One of North's toughest tests will come Oct. 17 when it heads to current No. 2 Iroquois.
The Chiefs return several top seniors, including Jackie Reed, an All-WNY pick last year, as well as Rebecca Schafer and Kelsey Ronan (team-high 25 goals last year). Iroquois plays at No. 4 Holland at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
> Around the fields
Sweet Home freshman goalie Leanne Stiver, younger sister of former Iowa standout Lauren Stiver, was one of only two players from Western New York (with Williamsville North's Miller) who were selected by USA Field Hockey to go further than the National Futures Tournament. Stiver helped her team to a bronze medal at the Junior Olympics. Also back are senior Jocelyn Montmarquet and junior Brianne Galli, who both played in the Empire State Games.
Section VI has only three Class C schools, but two of them -- No. 4 Holland and No. 9 Barker are ranked in WNY's top 10. Holland and 29th-year coach Pat Marvin welcome back four-year starter and All-Western New York first teamer Tara Schiltz, who was the school's athlete of the year for 2004-05. Noelle Keller and Melysa Uschold are also four-year varsity players, while sophomore Ashley Wiskup returns for her third season in goal for Holland, which won Class C last year.
Key seniors Emily Warren (first team All-WNY), Lindsay Bronnenkant and Brittany Jeffords and Amherst, which went to the Class B state semifinals last year, play at fellow state semifinalist Williamsville North on Sept. 28 at 4:30 p.m. . . . No. 7 Pioneer is at No. 1 Williamsville North at 5 p.m. Friday. . . . It only took a week for Wilson (1-2), the section's only other Class C team, to match its win total from last year's 1-14-1 mark.
Compiled by News Reporter Keith McShea