Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park’s confidence level was at an all-season high after defeating last year’s champion, Monsignor Martin, 10 days ago in the girls federation semifinals.
That confidence carried over into Sunday evening’s championship game in front of an estimated 300 at HarborCenter, where Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park defeated Williamsville, 4-2, earning their first ever Federation title.
The team’s offensive success came in part from defenseman Brooke Becker. The freshman from Orchard Park, currently in her second year with the program, netted her 11th and 12th goals of the season in the pivotal game.
“There’s not enough words I can really describe how happy I am right now,” Becker said about winning the Federation title. “I’m not super close with everybody, but I feel like on the ice we bond and there’s no separation at all. It’s amazing.”
Becker found the back of the net just 16 seconds into the second period, after a scoreless first period mostly dominated by Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park. Becker also scored the team’s third of four unanswered goals. Megan Roche and Sirena Fitzery were the other goal scorers for the victors.
Williamsville was unable to catch up, or match, Frontier/Orchard Park/Lake Shore’s stifling aggressive play, spending majority of time in their own defensive zone in the first two periods.
“Most of this year, we’ve been the team that has gotten the lead,” Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park head coach Bob Klimowicz, who was named as the Federation’s Coach of the Year during the second intermission, said. “Outside of the state final, where we didn’t get the lead, we’re not a team that really didn’t get a chance to play from behind too often. Our goal was to jump on them.”
Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park made it to the state championship game, before losing to Skaneateles (Section III) on February 11. On their way toward the state championship, it defeated Kenmore/Grand Island in the Section VI championship before beating Section VII’s Beekmantown in the state semifinals.
The girls used the loss in the state championship as motivation.
“We weren’t cocky, but we were into it,” Becker said. “We wanted to take out Monsignor Martin (in the semifinals). We were really focused on beating them. We’ve had a big rivalry with Williamsville for a long time, we went into this game and just need to knock ‘em out.”
Williamsville was able to catch up to Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park in the third period, but proved to be too late. Leah Czerwinski, like Becker, was named to the Girls All-Fed Team before scoring both of Williamsville’s goals. Jenna Lukomski was strong in net for Williamsville ending the night off with 22 saves, while making some very flashy saves.
“Their team speed is very hard to match up with. They smother you on the forecheck,” Williamsville head coach Rick Hopkins said about Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park’s pace of play. “Even when you’re lucky enough to get out of your own zone, their pursuit in the neutral zone can take away an odd-man rush even before you get their blue line. They smothered us early.”
Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park’s win in the championship game is the first win against Williamsville this season in four meetings between the two teams. Williamsville won the first two meetings in the season series, before both teams tied in their last meeting, 3-3, on January 26.
“So happy,” Becker said about the win. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. These girls have a lot of heart and that’s why we honestly won. They just never stop.”