By Nick Wojton
Special To The News
The Newfane Panthers and North Collins Eagles, two of section VI’s top girls soccer teams, had chances at redemption against section V foes on Friday at Williamsville South High School but fate had other sides.
Class B No. 2- Newfane (17-3-1) fell to No. 3-Aquinas (16-5), 2-0, after losing to the Irish 4-1 in September, and class D No.1-North Collins (15-3-1) fell to No.1-Wheatland-Chili Wildcats (19-1-1) 6-0, the same team that knocked it out of far west regional last year.
In class B, Aquinas flew out of the gate offensively, earning three corners in the first ten minutes. However, Newfane set the tone for the game in that span as the Panther backline stood tall with the Irish applying pressure throughout the opening half.
With 28 minutes remaining, Chanel Alexander was sent on a breakaway with Newfane’s Megan Knoll on her back but goalie Madalyn Traverse (11 saves) made a low, diving stop.
Newfane coach Chelsea Johannssen mentioned Kaitlin Beiter, Macy White, Knoll, Erin Dunn, and Sarah Milczarski as players who made strong defensive contributions for the Panthers.
By the end of the half, Aquinas outshot Newfane 7-0 but the game remained scoreless. After half, a new-look Newfane notch four shots in the first 15 minutes of the half.
“I told them at half that ‘We’re in their heads and we were here to win. You guys just have to keep up the fire and play with heart,’” Johannssen said.
But despite the strong push the Panthers failed to find the back of the net. The Irish made Newfane pay on a counter attack as Alexander’s shot from just outside Newfane’s box, was stoppedby Traverse but Alexnader scored on the rebound opening the scoring with 24 minutes left.
That goal took momentum back for Aquinas for the remainder of the game. After a couple of additional near misses, Alexander doubled her goal total as she walked into the Newfane box and pushed by three defenders before slotting the ball into the low corner to bring the score to 2-0 with 12:28 remaining.
Aquinas took the 2-0 score across the finish line to prevent Newfane from returning to the state final four for a second-consecutive season.
In class D, the Wildcats controlled the contest early and often against the Eagles. At the 24:21 mark, Wheatland opened the scoring by sending a quick pass off a corner to Niyah Rosado who sent a low cross across the North Collins’ box, connecting with Hannah Callaghan for the score.
Less than a minute later, Wheatland-Chili doubled the lead when the Wildcats stole the ball off the ensuing kickoff and started a quick counter attack. Jenna LaMere scored with Travina Meeks assisting at the 23:36 mark.
The two-goal held into the second half until the quick strike Wildcats netted back-to-back goals in less than a minute once again.
Callaghan scored her second of the game on a wide open look in the middle of North Collins’ box of a Rosado pass to extend the lead to 3-0. Callaghan completed her hat-trick right after with a long strike from 30-yards to bring the score to 4-0.
North Collins battled to the final buzzer as their best opportunity came with 22 minutes remaining when Destiny Neamon intercepted a pass from Wheatland’s defense and sent a through ball ahead to Emma Kron and with a defender on her back, Kron took a low shot toward that went wide.
With 12 minutes remaining LaMere netted another goal on a rebound and then two minutes later Allyssa Seilheimer scored on a fast break to extend the lead to 6-0. While a one-sided game on the scoreboard, North Collins still received a strong performance in goal from Gabel who notched 24 saves.
“We knew that she had to play a good, solid game and I thought she played an excellent game,” Fininzio said.
Both section V winners will advance to the state final four in Cortland next weekend.