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Grand Island, Newfane repeat as sectional champions in girls soccer

Grand Island gave up a goal for the first time in five weeks but it didn’t stop the Vikings from achieving an even bigger one.

Abigail Blair had two goals and an assist, Ana Mascaro also scored twice and Sarah Berlinger had the final tally as Grand Island defeated Pioneer 5-1 in the Section VI Class A title game on Tuesday night at Williamsville South.

The Vikings (19-1) repeated as Class A champions and won their 12th sectional title in 20 years.

In the Class B final, Newfane came from behind to beat Niagara-Orleans League rival Akron 2-1 to wins its second straight sectional championship.

Grand Island came into Tuesday’s game having won nine straight by shutout. It was supposed to be a matchup between the Vikings’ stingy defense that had allowed just five goals all season and the area’s most prolific scorer, Syracuse University commit Meghan Root, who had scored 45 goals for Pioneer this season.

Root, however, was shut down for the season due to a sore Achilles tendon following the Panthers’ A-2 title game victory over East Aurora.

“I’m not going to use that as a crutch,” Pioneer coach Frank Asquith said. “Last year, we lost Meghan for the season and we had a division championship without her. This year, she missed a game and we won that game without her. I’m just going to say this wasn’t our best game and Grand Island played a really good game.”

Grand Island was the first team to defeat Pioneer (18-1-1) this season.

“Root or no Root, they are a good team,” Grand Island coach Dave Bowman said. “Their record shows it’s not just one player that earns that kind of record.”

Blair gave Grand Island the lead in the 12th minute and set up Mascaro’s first goal on a header that made it 2-0 in the 24th minute.

Ashley Bliss broke the Vikings’ shutout streak with a breakaway goal in the 51st minute. Blair responded with her second goal 10 minutes later.

“I was mad about their goal,” Blair said. “It lit a fire under me and we talk about crashing the net every goal and that’s what I did.”

Mascaro, the Vikings’ senior captain, scored her second of the night on an arching shot to the top corner in the 71st minute. Berlinger scored her goal 35 seconds later.

“I’m ecstatic,” Mascaro said. “Especially it being my senior year. It’s all like last year. We’re going to keep winning. Keep working hard.”

The Vikings were 19-1 last year before losing to Section V champion Spencerport in the Far West Regional at Geneseo State College. Grand Island will get a rematch with Spencerport on Saturday at Williamsville South.

“It’s a whole different group of girls on this end,” Bowman said. “They are not holding onto that need for payback or revenge or anything like that. They’re taking it one game at a time and this is Spencerport. It’s not the Spencerport from last year. It’s Spencerport from this year.

Newfane, a state semifinalist last year, will face Aquinas on Friday night at Williamsville South.

Kayleigh Daniels scored the winning goal and assisted on an earlier goal by Meghan Mietlicki as the Panthers’ won consecutive titles for the first time in school history, coach Chelsea Buzyniski said.

The N-O rivals split their regular season matchups with each winning 2-0 on their home field.

In the third meeting, Akron took the lead in the fourth minute when Jenna Robnett scored on an assist from Kara Seguin at the front of the net.

“In some ways, we got that goal and then I think the girls were getting a little tense and nervous,” Akron coach Ed Apholz said. “We kind of got away from our style a little bit. We wanted to go forward and we let up a little and got too much into a shell.”

At halftime, Buzyniski reminded her team of how their season ended a year ago.

“In the state semis last year, Chenango Forks scored on us in the first two minutes of the game,” Buzyniski said. “I told them you guys can either have this game go just like that or go out and leave everything on the field and show them we can beat them.”

Mietlicki tied the game in the 53rd minute, knocking in the rebound of Daniels’ shot following a free kick.

“We just knew we had to get that goal back,” Mietlicki said. “When we play as a team and control our passes and all that, we know we can finesse on the other team.”

Daniels netted the winner in the 61st minute, receiving a pass from Emily Flagler and fighting through Akron goalkeeper Laurie Poeller’s attempt to make a slide save for the tap-in goal.

“You can tell these girls wanted it just by how they scored the goals,” Buzyniski said.

Akron had one quality chance on a corner kick in the second half but could not convert. The Tigers got into scoring range in the final seconds but did not get off a shot. Poeller made nine saves for Akron.

“They should end the season with a ton of pride,” Apholz said. “We accomplished more than we even set out for, I believe. No matter what, they finished successfully.”

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