By Dave Ricci
Sprcial to The News
You have to hand it to the Niagara-Orleans League.
They play some pretty good soccer in the small league. And they proved it on Saturday afternoon, with all four teams in the Section VI Class B-1 and B-2 girls soccer championships at Williamsville North representing the N-O.
In the B-1 game, No. 2 Newfane topped No. 8 Albion, 1-0, as Emily Foltz scored the lone goal of the game. And Jenna Robnett had a pair of goals as second-seeded Akron topped fourth-seeded Wilson, 3-0 in the B-2 title game.
Akron and Newfane will face each other in Tuesday’s overall Class B championship at Williamsville South at 5:30 p.m.
Akron struck early when Robnett scored just 2 minutes and 35 seconds into the game. Amanda Swader put the Tigers up 2-0 when she popped home a rebound midway through the first half.
Having split the season series, each team taking a 1-0 win, the Tigers (13-4) knew that they couldn’t let up. Akron’s mindset was play like it was 0-0 and not give Wilson a chance to claw its way back into the game.
“It was super important” to score first “because we knew if we had any letdowns that they were just gonna come right back at us and get a goal on us,” Robnett said. “So we had to strike early and get a goal right away.”
Robnett capped the scoring late in the second half as Akron claimed its first sectional title since winning the overall Class B title in 2013.
The Tigers’ road to the overall title could be blocked by Newfane (16-2-1), which it to the NYSPHSAA tournament last year.
Foltz scored the lone goal nine minutes into the game.
The Panthers were patient with the ball and controlled play for the majority of the game. They kept constant pressure on Albion goalie Sydney Mulka, who made some huge saves including a point blank one on Kayleigh Daniels on a breakaway with 10 minutes left in the game. Though she was unable to cash in on that chance, the strong play of Daniels was a huge part of why the Panthers were able to control play.
“Usually when we get a goal (early) we play more confident,” Daniels said, “we play safe and smart.”
Albion had a golden opportunity to tie the score with 7:04 left in the game. Newfane goalie Madalyn Travers came out to smother a shot, but she was unable to maintain control and the loose ball popped in front of an Albion player who fired it wide left.
After falling to Section IV’s Chenango Forks in the state semifinals last year the Panthers, who graduated six starters, have been on a mission to return to states.
“Expectations are let’s just get through one game at a time and fix what we have to fix,” Newfane coach Chelsea Buzynski said. “Even last year, don’t look to the future. We have to take it one game at a time and see how it goes.”
Akron and Newfane split the regular season series, with each team winning 2-0.