Call it bad luck. Call it a curse. Call it a series of big game chokes.
Call it whatever you want, but Iroquois field hockey came up short in the Section VI championship the last three years. Each loss feeling worse than the previous.
All Iroquois cares about now is that the Chiefs are back atop Section VI field hockey and that infamous streak didn’t reach four.
Iroquois finally got over the hump on Saturday, getting the best of Williamsville South in a 2-0 win in the Class B championship at Orchard Park High School on Saturday. The gives the perennial power Chiefs their first sectional title since 2012. In Class C, Barker won 1-0 over Akron in a shootout at Orchard Park.
Williamsville North topped Orchard Park, 3-1, in the Class A game played at Sweet Home.
"We’ve been to The Dance the last three years, but came up short – one goal, one goal, one," said Iroquois coach Pete Tonsoline, whose team improved to 19-0. "This win is just unbelievable. We waited so long for this and I’m just so proud of this team.
"I told the girls this morning, ‘We’re not going to be bridesmaids today. We’re going to get the ring on our finger.’"
It was clear Iroquois was on a mission from the get-go on Saturday. The Chiefs spent a large chunk of the game hanging out in front of Amherst’s net, just missing on a handful of golden opportunities.
Senior Chantel Gauthier finally broke through in the first half with a goal and junior Samantha Gaglio added an insurance tally minutes later.
"The girls knew what the job was right from the get-go," Tonisoline said, "We didn’t do anything special. We supported each other on defense and filled in when we needed to. And our attack, I felt like that was overwelming."
"What an accomplishment," Gauthier said. "I’m so proud of my team and happy for all of the coaches, especially for ‘Ton’, this is his first undefeated season."
After Barker saw its streak of seven straight Section VI titles broken last year against Akron, the Raiders returned to their familiar place atop Class C.
Barker upset undefeated and top-seeded Akron in a contest that remained scoreless after 60 minutes of regulation time and 20 minutes of 7 on 7 overtime.
Barker senior Grayce Weller scored the game-winner in a shootout.
Akron spent much of the game in front of Barker’s goal, but the Raiders’ defense withstood the intense pressure unscathed.
A big part of that was junior goalkeeper Cara Fox who made two game-saving stops in overtime.
"The team just swarmed her after the game, she was such a rock in there today," Barker coach Jeff Costello said.
"This team is just so, so gritty. They work so hard and they needed to today."
Barker has now won 11 of the last 13 Section VI championships and 13 in the last 16 years.
Another perennial power welcomed home another Section VI title – Williamsville North. The Spartans won the Class A title for the second year in a row, and their 11th championship overall.
"We knew we had to fight for this win, we knew it wasn’t going to come easy, Williamsville North coach Andrea Maslowski said. "Thankfully we broke through."
Freshman Emma Roland scored all three goals in the game, none bigger than the go-ahead goal with just under four minutes to play. She added another goal minutes later.
"She started last year as an eight-grader with her twin sister, Erin, and they both drive our team and the rest of team feeds off of that," Maslowski said.
Section VI champs will head to Rochester for the Far West Regionals to face Section V’s best.