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High School Extra: St. Joe’s reaches soccer finals

Joe’s in soccer finals

Just last month, it was hard to envision the St. Joe’s boys soccer team being in position to win a championship, but the Marauders are peaking at the right time.

St. Joe’s (7-7-3) advanced to the Monsignor Martin finals after stunning Canisius in the league semifinals, 2-1, on Wednesday afternoon. The Marauders move on to face St. Francis, which blanked Nichols on Wednesday, 2-0.

Sophomore Donald Minderler scored the game-winner just before the end of regulation for the Marauders.

It’s been a difficult climb to the Monsignor Martin championship for St. Joe’s. Injuries and a brutal non-league schedule led to a slow start and a humbling 2-6-1 record. But Joe’s closed the last eight games of the regular season at 5-1-2, with the lone loss coming on Senior Day against St. Francis, 1-0.

“We took our lumps, but we’ve been playing better all through October,” Marauders coach Mike Thoin said. “We had all kinds of double overtimes and ties and things like that but we played exceptionally well against a difficult non-league schedule.”

Canisius (12-4-0) took a 1-0 lead 15 minutes into the contest on a goal by Kevin Armstrong before St. Joe’s broke through on a Henry Frome goal that knotted the game at 1 at the 25-minute mark.

St. Joe’s finally settled matters on a goal with 1:10 remaining. St. Joe’s senior Brendan Cryan slipped through the defense and found Minderler who scored from 30 yards out.

St. Joe’s takes on St. Francis at 2 p.m. Sunday at Niagara University. St. Francis has won all three matchups against St. Joe’s this season, all decided by one goal.

The Red Raiders won the first meeting in overtime, 1-0, and the second in double overtime, 2-1.

Elsewhere, East Aurora captured the Class A-2 championship as four different players scored goals in the Blue Devils’ 4-0 victory over Riverside. Keifer Tehan, Ben Ingram, Kyle Kleckner and Sean Kishel each scored a goal for East Aurora.

NT outscores Hamburg

North Tonawanda used an impressive ground attack led by Chris Woodard and John Zellner to defeat Hamburg, 36-29, in a Chuck Funke Memorial Classic matchup.

Woodard rushed for 174 yards and two scores, while Zellner went for 147 yards and three touchdowns as the Lumberjacks finished with 346 yards rushing. North Tonawanda runs the triple option, but that didn’t stop Jake Ferry from breaking the school’s single-season record for receiving yards with 802.