From 2014 to 2016, the Tigers’ season came to an end at the hands of Penn Yan at the Far West Regionals. None of the games were close, as Penn Yan smothered the Tigers by 11 or more goals in all three outings.
Saturday night, Akron got its revenge.
Junior Owen Hill completed his eight-point game in double overtime, finding a streaking Nelson Logan to win the Class D regional, 10-9. It’s the first time a Section VI school has defeated a Section V school in the Far West Regional since 2013 and ends a six-year streak of Penn Yan going to states.
Akron advances to the Class D state final four in Cicero-North Syracuse as the only Section VI school still alive. Pittsford defeated Orchard Park, 20-4, in Class A, Victor downed Hamburg, 7-4, in Class B and Palmyra-Macedon used a furious comeback to defeat Grand Island, 8-6, in Class C.
“My heart is just filled with love for our guys because that is something we’ve worked for constantly,” Akron coach Gary Sundown said. “Last year, the day after this game it was right back to work. It was a whole year process.”
Akron needed heroics from Hill to even get to overtime.
Hill scored the final five goals of regulation for Akron, including a buzzer-beater. The Tigers had possession on a restart down one with 5.8 seconds to go in the fourth. Hill drove to the center of the field and despite getting double-teamed had enough space to spin around for a shot through the defenders.
“I swear it went between their kneecaps,” Sundown said. “I honestly don’t know how it got through there. I’m just so glad he shot.”
Hill’s game-clinching pass was just as impressive. He hung up a perfect half-field lob to Logan, who didn’t let his move go to waste. Logan beat Penn Yan’s Jeff Kinyoun on the left side.
“I just knew if I put it in front of Nels he was going to grab it and score,” said Hill, who is verbally committed to Albany. He finished the game with six goals and two assists.
For Grand Island, it was a disastrous minute and a half that brought its season to a halt. Down, 6-4, with under 4-1/2 minutes left, Pal-Mac scored four straight goals thanks to dominance in the face-off X and in transition.
“We couldn’t take care of the ball,” Grand Island coach Ted Lee said. “At the end, we were just gassed.”
Hamburg also hung with its opponent, although the Bulldogs never led against two-time defending state champion Victor. The Bulldogs cut their deficit to 5-4 in the fourth quarter, but two late goals helped Victor continue its march toward a third straight title.
“I’m really proud of this group,” Hamburg coach Jerry Severino said. “They worked until the very last whistle. … If the ball had bounced a couple of different ways, you never know.”
Orchard Park suffered the most lopsided result of the day in falling to Pittsford. The Panthers scored seven straight goals to open the game before Orchard Park found the back of the net with 5:11 remaining in the first half.
Pal-Mac will make the same eastern trip to Syracuse as Akron for the Class C final four, while Pittsford and Victor will return to the St. John Fisher turf for the state’s Class A and B tournament.