The shot came out of nowhere, and sailed in the direction of Williamsville East goalie Anna Miller. With the clock in the final seconds of a Section VI girls soccer A-1 final, everyone watched as it sailed toward the goal and arched towards the crossbar above Miller.
Niagara Wheatfield’s final shot of the game seemingly came out of nowhere, and it bounced off the top of the pipe and went behind the goal as time expired.
The bounce sealed a 1-0 win for Williamsville East on Saturday at Williamsville North High School. The Flames face Amherst at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Section VI Class A championship game at Williamsville North. Amherst defeated Lewiston-Porter 1-0 in a shootout.
Willliamsville East co-captain Gretchen Beyer scored the only goal of the game on a long kick from about 30 yards out. The ball bounced off the crossbar and behind Niagara Wheatfield goalie Hannah Wilson.
“I just took a touch towards the goal, and tried to hit it in the upper 90,” said Beyer, who scored in the 32nd minute.
But she thought something else as she watched Niagara Wheatfield’s final shot carom off the crossbar.
“Please, don’t go in,” Beyer recalled after the game.
The Flames controlled the pace of the game, and Miller didn’t touch the ball until the 19th minute, when she kicked the ball to clear it out of Niagara Wheatfield’s offensive end.
“They’re a strong team,” Niagara Wheatfield coach Pete Cerny said. “Their ability to get you off the ball is a big threat. That was one of our bigger challenges today. We eventually did better at that, and that allowed us to hang in this game.”
Williamsville East missed a chance at a second goal four minutes into the second half, as Bella Buscaglia’s kick went just wide of the goal.
Niagara Wheatfield put five shots on goal in the first 20 minutes of the second half, but was unable to generate much offensive movement in front of Miller.
“We needed to get to the ball first and we needed to protect the ball,” Cerny said. “We needed to play like we don’t want to give that up. That was our main message going into the second half, but it was not enough.”
But with about 18 minutes left, Niagara Wheatfield was unable to convert one of its best scoring chances. The Falcons caught Miller (eight saves) out of position just in front of the crease, and couldn’t control the ball against Williamsville East’s defense.
As the final shot of the game approached, Cerny thought one thing: “We should have done that earlier.”
“We just played our game,” Beyer said. “We did what we had to do to hold them off. We played wide and used the length of the field, and took advantage of their weaknesses.”