Two years ago, Amherst goalie Leah Shutts watched her older sister, Kayla, line up in goal for a girls soccer playoff game against Lewiston-Porter.
As she found herself in the same position in a playoff game Saturday against Lewiston-Porter at Williamsville North High School, Alexa Shutts thought back to how her sister played against the Lancers.
“I knew what she went through, so it was just so cool to be back here and to do the same thing, to follow in her footsteps,” Leah Shutts said. “Lewiston-Porter, they’ve been huge competition for years. Two years ago we beat them, and last year they kicked us out of the playoffs, and we know they’re a great team. They’re all talented. We had to put in the work.”
Shutts made 11 saves and stopped Lewiston-Porter’s final two shots in a shootout to help the Amherst girls soccer team earn a berth in the Section VI Class A championship game.
Amherst and Lewiston-Porter share the Section VI Class A-2 championship by virtue of a 0-0 tie, but Amherst advances to the Section VI Class A championship game Tuesday against Williamsville East at Williamsville North. Williamsville East defeated Niagara Wheatfield 1-0 in the Class A-1 final.
Shutts stopped Alexa Schultz, the third Lewiston-Porter shooter, when Schultz’s shot bounced off her hands.
After Mallory Grubb shot the ball above the head of L-P goalie Claire Skowronski for Amherst's fourth successful shot, Shutts sealed the win by batting away a shot by Lancers defender Ellie Schultz.
Shutts shared her strategy in shootouts.
“Honestly, I look at a player’s hips, and I go from there,” Shutts said. “It worked out. There’s not much to tell about it.”
The shootout between the Tigers and the Lancers ended a game that was scoreless through 80 minutes of regulation, two 10-minute overtime periods and two five-minute, sudden-victory periods.
At a few points in a cold, rainy game in which the winds continued to pick up as the afternoon progressed, Shutts admitted there were a few times she thought, “just let someone score, please.”
“It’s like, ‘someone, please’ because you want it to be over," Shutts said, laughing.
But Shutts wasn’t going to let that happen in regulation or in the overtime sessions. Neither was Skowronski, who made 10 saves.
The Tigers had to contain speedy Lancers forward Alexis Lindamer, who had several quality scoring chances, including a chance in the 62nd minute in which she fielded a long pass in front of the goal against a pair of Amherst defenders. Maxana Grubb and Sophie Smith, however, didn’t give Lindamer enough room to square up and take a shot.
Quinn DeCicco hit Skowronski square in the knee with a shot on a one-on-one attempt four minutes later, and with less than three minutes left in regulation, Shutts fielded a long shot that banked off her hands and went out behind the goal line. Shutts also caught a direct kick by Schultz from about 20 yards out, with two minutes left in the second five-minute overtime.
“You never expect it to go to a shootout,” L-P coach Norman Forney said. “But I did expect it to be close game. It always is when we play Amherst. They’re a very good team, they’re very well disciplined, they’re well coached and we just seem to match up well with them. Every time we play them, it’s going to be a very technical, very disciplined soccer game.”