For Declan Brown it just didn’t seem real. Even as fans chanted his name.
Brown made two saves in penalty kicks including one in the pivotal sixth round to lead No. 2 Southwestern past No. 5 Lafayette, 2-1 (PKs) to capture the Section VI Class B-2 championship at Tonawanda’s Clinton H. Small Stadium.
“I just don’t know what to say right now,” Brown said with a smile, “Honestly, it’s surreal.”
Winning its first sectional title since 1997, Southwestern advanced to the Class B crossover game next Tuesday at Tonawanda High School against B-1 champ East Aurora. The No. 1 Blue Devils topped No. 3 Lackawanna, 4-2.
“It took us so long to get out of the second round,” Trojans coach Jason Deering said. “It kept stopping us. It kept stopping us. Last year we really thought we had the team to do it and the second round got us. We knew we had to be mentally strong and put in more work and we did it."
Brown, who made a brilliant punch save with 1:25 left in regulation to preserve the 1-1 tie, also made a save in round two of penalty kicks.
“It’s just amazing for everyone on the team,” Brown said.
Yielding just seven goals as a team all year, the Trojans have one of the strongest defenses in the area. But Brown, a sophomore in his first season of varsity, proved he was up to the test when called up in the postseason.
“He’s had a couple of outstanding saves in these playoff games that saved us,” Deering said.
Senior forward Chase Stevenson proved once again that he is a big-game player as his 38th goal of the season tied the game 12 minutes into the second half.
Stevenson also scored the game winner in the sixth round of penalty kicks.
The Violets, who won the Class D title last season, used a series of good first touches on the ball to control the tempo and keep more sustained pressure in the Trojans ends.
Muhammad Fairus scored with 16:22 left in the first to give Lafayette the 1-0 lead.
Getting bumped up two classes has been trial by fire for the Violets, but coach Brad Brodnicki said his team has was not just up for challenge. They were ready to grow and improve as the weeks went by.
Because the game went to PK’s both teams are acknowledged as co-champs.
“Especially when I only returned four kids from last year. All the rest is brand new,” Lafayette coach Brad Brodnicki said.
“So to get this far is a great accomplishment.”
It was a clash of defending champions in the nightcap as Class A East Aurora knocked off Class B Lackawanna. Jon Putney’s four-goal night lifted Blue Devils to victory.
“All season long I’ve been trying to get my hat trick,”said Putney, who scored the game winner with 3:55 left in regulation.
“I’ve gotten two goals a bunch of times. To finally get my hat trick and add another one on at the end to clinch the game. It was just a great feeling.”
The Blue Devils are on a mission to make states after seeing last season end in the Far West Regionals.