Lewiston-Porter and Williamsville East are located in proud soccer municipalities.
They have reason to stick their chests out and be loud, as both ended boys’ soccer championship droughts Thursday night at new Clinton H. Small Stadium in Tonawanda.
Ben Woolingham’s second goal of the game provided Williamsville East with its first golden championship moment since 2014 as the Flames defeated Hamburg, 2-1, in double overtime to win the Section VI Class A-1 title. Woolingham’s tally ended a physical and entertaining clash in which both teams generated chances with Will East cashing in on its last with 10 minutes, 37 seconds remaining.
“It feels amazing,” Woolingham said. “Last year we went out in the first round and that was absolutely heartbreaking. But it feels absolutely amazing getting the job done this year.”
In the Class A-2 final, second-seeded Lew-Port kicked away a 25-year championship drought in assertive fashion with a 3-0 triumph over No. 4 Williamsville South. Joey Zachary finished with a goal and assisted on what proved to be the game-winning marker for the Lancers.
“It’s big for the kids, it’s big for the community,” triumphant coach Rick Sweeney said. “It’s a small town that has had a rich soccer history. There’s been many big players to have come close but have just been unlucky in that last game. The kids were aware of that. … Winning at any time is a big deal but winning when there’s been a long dry spell it makes it a little more meaningful and I think the kids understand that.”
Lew-Port (16-2-1) and Williamsville East (17-2) meet for the overall Section VI Class A crown at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Tonawanda. The matchup has added intrigue in that former longtime Lancers coach Jim Clauss – who guided the program to its previous seven sectional titles before Thursday – is now an assistant at Williamsville East. His boss with the Flames, Jeff Librock, also plans to retire as soccer coach.
“It’s kind of special,” Librock said. “He (Clauss) was at Lew-Port for 33 years so this was a good going away present.”
Williamsville East had to overcome the absence of second-leading goal-scorer Trey Buscaglia (undisclosed injury) along with dealing with a couple others trying to play through ailments in the rubber match against Hamburg. Both teams split regular-season meetings, but the Flames still had Woolingham in the lineup, their top goal scorer. He broke a scoreless tie late in the first half.
Hamburg, which scored twice during the season against the Flames off corner kicks, managed to do it again as Seth Heeter’s bender proved to be too tricky for the goalkeeper to punch away as the ball caromed into the net instead of away from it with 21:15 left in the second half. Prior to that goal, Woolingham got denied point blank on repeated shots by the Bulldogs’ netminder.
He got his revenge roughly 30 minutes later, triggering a huge celebration by the Flames.
“Hamburg, they’re a very good team,” Librock said. “I’m proud of my kids.”
Sweeney is proud of his, too, as Lew-Port followed his directions. The Lancers went all out and left nothing to chance. They scored twice before the A-2 final was 20 minutes old and never relinquished control.
Zachary slipped a perfectly placed pass into the box to Jake Westadt for the one-on-one chance that he deposited into the goal under the crossbar for his 18th goal of season.
“Leave nothing in the tank and take everything you can away from your opponent,” Sweeney said.
Will South had perhaps its best chance shortly after that off a direct kick from roughly 25 yards away, but Lancers goalkeeper Joe Beatty (six saves) punched the hard shot over the net.
In the tradition of a big save coming before a big goal, Andrew Perreault scored to make it 2-0 with 20:43 left in the first half. It stayed that way until Zachary scored just 4:39 into the second half.
The Lancers didn’t let their foot off the gas after that but their speed proved to be too much. The defensive line of Jake Forney, Jake Fleck, Zach Clayborne and Tanner Reisman did a great job of keeping Billies (10-8) shooters outside.
“It means a lot,” Sweeney said. “’It’s a tough group of teams you have to get by to get to this point. There’s not many teams left playing and everybody left playing is a good opponent.”