It isn't often that Section VI's large school boys soccer teams head to the regional round against the soccer hotbed of Section V (Rochester area) as the favorite.
But when you're ranked fifth in the country, that pretty much should make you the favorite. The Williamsville North boys rocketed up to No. 5 in Tuesday's National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll after being ranked 18th last week.
"For Section VI over the years Section V has been tough -- getting out of the Far West Regionals is the hardest thing to do," said North coach Lee Ferenc. "We've gone up against Rochester teams this year and done well; we knocked off Aquinas this year. The way we're playing and they way our confidence is going, we're going to give somebody a hell of a game. We've got a chance to make it with this team."
(Although, as far as the polls go, take this for what it's worth: Williamsville East showed up at No. 25 in this Tuesday's NSCAA girls poll without a loss; even though Will East fell to East Aurora in Saturday's Class A final).
State title dreams are still alive for Section VI's best fall sports champions as they head to the Far West Regionals this weekend. In addition to boys and girls soccer, there's one of the section's most successful sports in girls volleyball.
There are three defending state champions in Saturday's regionals at ECC-City: Lancaster, Eden and Randolph. Those might not be the only familiar faces heading to Glens Falls for the state final four next weekend. If Eden (Class C) and East Aurora (B) win in the regionals, it'll be an even more memorable season for the Pierce family.
Kathryn Pierce, a senior at East Aurora, is the daughter of Eden coach Stephen Pierce. Kathryn attends EA and not Eden because that's where the Pierce family lives.
"The interesting thing that happened this year is we moved to down to [Class] C and the first think I thought of for my daughter's senior year was if they're able to progress through playoffs they won't have to face us," said Stephen Pierce, whose team has won four state titles since 2000. "That meant she had a chance to experience everything I've experienced. Now I get to watch her get that thrill which
is really exciting and meaningful for my wife [Lin] and me."
Here's the full lineup of regional contests this weekend:
BOYS SOCCER at Caledonia-Mumford
CLASS D: North Collins (16-2-2) vs. V-Fillmore, 5 p.m. Friday
CLASS A: Iroquois (16-2-2) vs. V-Pittsford Sutherland (16-2-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday
CLASS C: Holland (14-5-1) vs. V-Red Creek, 11 a.m. Saturday
CLASS AA: Williamsville North (19-0-2) vs. V-Webster Thomas (15-2-3), 1:30 p.m. Saturday
CLASS B: Akron (20-1) vs. V-Bath, 4 p.m. Saturday
CLASS D: Ellicottville (15-3-1) vs. V-Arkport (19-2-1) at Brighton, 5 p.m. Friday
CLASS B: Falconer (15-0-4) vs. V-Livonia (15-7) at Brighton, 7:30 p.m. Friday
CLASS C: Maple Grove (15-3-2) vs. V-Caledonia-Mumford (17-5-1) at Amherst, 2 p.m. Saturday
CLASS A: East Aurora (18-4) vs. V-Pittsford Mendon (13-3-3) at Amherst, 4:30 p.m. Saturday
CLASS AA: Kenmore West (17-3-2) vs. V-Greece Arcadia (16-2-2) at Amherst, 7 p.m. Saturday
GIRLS VOLLEYBALL -- Saturday at ECC-City
CLASS B: East Aurora vs. V-Livonia, 10 a.m.
CLASS C: Eden vs. V-Nazareth Academy, noon
CLASS D: Randolph vs. V-Lyons, 2 p.m.
CLASS A: Starpoint (20-3) vs. V-Victor, 4 p.m.
CLASS AA: Lancaster (20-3) vs. V-Penfield (19-1), 6 p.m.
Tell us which sports -- and teams -- have the best shots at reaching the final four and tell us why by clicking "comments" at the bottom of this post. When you vote, you'll see the current results; polls close at the starting time of each respective game.
Section VI is also still in the running for a state field hockey title, and it is a strong contender with Williamsville North and Michigan State-bound Chantae Miller. The Spartans won their Far West Regional Thursday but still have another step before the final four. North will play Section IV (Binghamton area) champion Greene at Oneonta State at 5 p.m. Saturday.
-- Keith McShea