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Spartans take bow for great season

At a recent Williamsville school board meeting there was one item on the agenda that didn't need discussion.

Honoring the players and the coach of the state champion Williamsville North field hockey team was something everyone could agree on. All in favor, say "I."

The Spartans and coach Kris LaPaglia were guests at the December meeting. The board recognized the team for its 22-0 season that included the New York State Class A Championship.

The Board also cited LaPaglia for reaching her 200th career win in her 14th season, but she was quick to deflect the praise to the players who year after year invest the time it takes to build a winner.

"The comment was made that I must be living in a perfect field hockey world at North because the kids don't treat it like a three-four month season," said LaPaglia, who is 207-48-13 in her career. "They are working constantly all year round to make themselves better and strive for excellence."

The work ethic also translated into North landing three players on the 21st annual All-Western New York team. The 14-player team is chosen by area coaches.

Alison Ferenczy of Williamsville South made the team for the third year in a row while Shannon Martin of Nichols, Allison Brace of Williamsville South and Jess Wess of Williamsville North were repeat picks. Williamsville North had three picks; South, Nichols, Iroquois and Hamburg had two each.

North's picks, forward Emily Woods, goalkeeper Wess and forward Tiffany Cioppi, were all seniors. Wood was the only player in Western New York named Regional All-American. Her leadership role became even more important when Allie Ahern was lost for the season with a knee injury. Woods was known for her well-balanced play, evidenced by her 20 goals and 30 assists. She will sign with Lock Haven University in February.

Wess has always set the bar high for herself. She told LaPaglia before the season she wanted to break Nichole Lewis' 2007 school record for fewest goals allowed in a season which stood at four. She did, giving up just three in 22 games with 17 shutouts and 60 saves.

Cioppi had a nice stick in front of the net, recording many of her nine goals and five assists on deflections and rebounds. LaPaglia was impressed how well Cioppi handled the pressure of the center-back position and what a smart player she was. She'll sign with Central Michigan in February.

> Nichols wins title

North wasn't the only team to capture state honors as Nichols won the NYS Alliance of Independent School titles. The Vikings beat Holy Child in the title game, 4-0, barely allowing Holy Child to get the ball over the 25-yard line. Nichols finished 16-1-2, outscoring opponents, 62-8. Seniors Shannon Martin and Marissa Faso represented the Vikings on All-WNY.

Martin, who was constantly double or tripled teamed, still managed to score 20 goals and hand out 20 assists. She had a hat trick against Ridley College, scoring all three goals within 5 minutes. She will sign with Kent State.

Nichols coach Beth Stone called Faso the catalyst behind the team. She had 11 goals and 17 assists. "She was a flier on defensive corners, the kamikaze on free hits and tenacious in the circle," said Stone.

> Around the circle

The ECIC Coach of the Year was Mary Hennessy of East Aurora, now in her third season. Hennessy said the Blue Devils' 7-11 season was the program's best finish in at least 10 years. Abby Weiss and Andrea Goldbach were the All-WNY selections from Section VI Class B champion Hamburg. Barker's first-teamer, Jessica Hillman, led the Raiders to the Section VI Class C title and a 14-0 record in winning their fifth straight Niagara-Orleans League crown. Williamsville North won the ECIC Large School division at 16-0 while Williamsville South was the ECIC Small School champ at 13-2-1. South's Ferenczy will take her talents to St. Lawrence. Julia Suriani scored seven goals in a win over Starpoint to provide one of the many highlights of West Seneca East's season. Iroquois coach Pete Tonsoline recorded his 250th career win against Clarence. The Chiefs' multi-sport athlete, Cayla Slade, earned an All-WNY berth following a 26-goal season.


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