By Marquel Slaughter - Special to The News
Conner Golley looked as if he’d been there before.
Allegany-Limestone just earned a share of its third straight sectional title moments before Mike McMullen missed a crucial penalty kick versus Randolph. Golley, a sophomore, ran up to his senior teammate, gave him a hug and reassured McMullen that he’d finish the deal.
“I said ‘I got this. You’re good,’ ” Golley recounted. “‘I got the next one.’”
Golley fulfilled his promise as he forced Kaleb Steward’s shot high above the crossbar, sealing a 3-1 win in penalty kicks for No. 2 Allegany-Limestone after top-seeded Randolph played the Gators to a 0-0 stalemate through regulation and overtime. The Section VI Class C final was played on a brisk night at Sweet Home High School.
The Class D final was another game without a goal in regulation. In overtime, Dylan Chase scored in the 10th minute of overtime to lift top-seeded Pine Valley over No. 3 seed and defending champion Ellicottville, 1-0.
“I just wanted a good touch,” said Chase, whose 13th goal of the year gave Pine Valley its 17th victory and a spot in the Far West regional.
The regulation periods of both games went completely scoreless. 225 minutes into the doubleheader is when the crowd saw its first – and final – goal.
Goalkeepers Makiah Snyder of Pine Valley and Robert Spell from Ellicottville each played well enough in net to win a championship for their respective clubs, but the Panthers’ defense was a little bit stronger.
“We’re strong in the back. That’s where we start,” said Pine Valley head coach Dave Pihlblad. “Dana Jenkins and Zach Mansfield are my two center-backs. They played a heck of a game. We’ve had a lot of shutouts this year because of those guys.”
Golley helped Allegany-Limestone earn its 13th clean sheet of the season. Not bad for a goaltender who had never been in a PK battle before Friday.
“They just told me to save the ball,” he said, helping the Gators improve their season series versus Randolph to 1-1-1.
Gators head coach Jon Luce was able to breathe a bit after watching his team score on its first three tries in the round of penalty kicks. Sean McAfee, Sam Flanders and Dylan Talbot were all successful for A-L.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” said Talbot, the Gators’ leading scorer. “Glad it ended how it did. I couldn’t have a better team.”
Randolph missed its first try but responded when Ryan Shipherd put the Cardinals closer. However, their next two shots sailed over the crossbar.
The Cardinals had their fair share of chances to end the game during regulation. Specifically in the waning seconds when Morgan Kish forced a turnover in Gator territory and raced to the net, but not before Zach Hemphill made one of his handful of memorable defensive stops in the third meeting between the Class C squads.
“At that point I was running down the sideline because I knew what could possibly happen,” said Randolph head coach Dave Levandowski.
As odd as it is to end the season as a co-champion while not advancing, Levandowski said his group should be proud of ending the 27-year championship drought for a program that won five games in 2015. Not advancing is tough but eventually his group will realize the history they’ve made.
“This is a pretty fitting end for Randolph and Allegany,” said Levandowski. “This is about as proud of a moment that a coach can have.”
Allegany-Limestone did have its chances earlier in the contest, specifically in the final 10 minutes of regulation when McMullen weaved his way through a flock of Cardinals only for his shot to be stopped.
Austin Meyers and Marcus Evans were steady on the attack while their fellow Cardinals were just as tough on the other end.
Allegany-Limestone will take its three-peat back to Sweet Home at 5 p.m. on Nov. 4 to take on the Section V (Rochester) representative in the Far West Regional.
Pine Valley will play its regional match at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 at the same site.