Lackawanna’s Ali Alomari has scored a lot of goals, but his 46th of the season may be one of the easiest he’s ever deposited for Lackawanna.
Riley Quinn doesn’t have as many goals, but like Alomari showed a knack for delivering a strike when Lancaster needed it most.
The end result, both seniors led their respective teams to Section VI boys soccer championships Saturday night at Sweet Home High School.
Quinn scored twice for the Legends, including a huge insurance goal minutes after they had given up a marker to lead Lancaster to a 4-1 victory over Orchard Park in the Class AA championship game.
Alex Bona and William Breski also scored to help the Legends secure their first sectional title since 2011.
Lancaster advances to face the Rochester-area Section V champion at Hilton at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“I can’t even describe the feeling right now, I’m still in shock,” Quinn said. “It’s been a while since we’ve won and I’m just enjoying the moment.”
Alomari’s goal just 2 minutes, 24 seconds into the final half gave his team the lead for good, as the sixth-seeded Steelers took out No. 1 Maryvale, 3-2, in the Class B-1 final.
Alomari, Kamal Abdullah and Ahmed Daifallah each recorded a goal, while goalkeeper Yousef Albakri made 10 stops to lead Lackawanna to its second sectional title in three years and fifth overall.
Alex Raczynski and Morris Morlock scored for the Flyers (15-3-1), who were trying to win their first championship since 2010.
Instead it’s the Steelers (17-3) advancing to Monday’s overall Section VI Class B final against B-2 champion Eden at Sweet Home. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. with the overall Class A final to follow. The winners of these finals advance to the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association quarterfinals/Far West Regionals next weekend at Hilton High School in suburban Rochester.
“We showed everyone that we are not only a good team but a No. 1 team,” said longtime Steelers coach Abdul Noman. “We proved today that we have the skills, we have the talent. This win is a gift from the players to the Lackawanna City Schools District and the City of Lackawanna. … I love this city.”
In Saturday night’s Class AA final it was a battle of underdogs, third-seeded Lancaster and No. 4 Orchard Park. The Legends took out No. 2 Williamsville North to reach the final, while OP stunned three-time defending champion Clarence, which had won five of the last seven titles.
Lancaster (12-5-2) defeated the Quakers (10-8-1) for the second time in three meetings this season and did so by getting the early lead and then pouring it on with a three-goal second half. It marked the fourth time this season the Legends scored more than three goals in a game.
Quinn’s header off a Joshua Marinaccio corner broke a scoreless tie with 13:55 left in the first half. After OP had a goal early in the second half waived off due to offsides, Breski scored to make it 2-0 with 21 minutes left.
The Quakers pulled within one a minute later on Daniel Mahany’s goal, but Quinn responded with a mighty strike of his own 6 minutes later to give Lancaster breathing room. Bona’s goal with under 6 minutes left gave the Legends faithful in attendance reason to start an early celebration.
First-year Lancaster coach Luciano Gallo said there were folks out there who didn’t believe in his Legends, which had only eight seniors on their 30-man roster. But they’re a deep team that received contributions from everyone.
“This team has grown game by game,” Gallo said.“I told everybody you’re underestimating us and we proved everybody wrong.”
Lackawanna won its third straight one-goal game of the playoffs Saturday. The route to overcoming the disappointment of losing to East Aurora in last year’s final began with a 2-1 win over third-seeded Medina/Lyndonville. It continued with a 2-1 win in the semifinals over old friend EA.
The Steelers fell behind 1-0 but didn’t panic. They finally got even with 45.5 seconds left in the first half on Abdullah’s goal as he pounced on the rebound of a hard shot by Alomari. Minutes into the second half, Lackawanna struck again with Alomari being rewarded for reading the play.
“I read the pass,” he said. “I saw the defender look at the goalie. They’ve been doing that all game so I read it, it slipped off the goalie’s leg and went right to me.” A wide-open Daifallah scored with just over 10 minutes left, beating the goalie to the far side from roughly 15 yards out.
Maryvale scored a minute later to make things interesting, but the Steelers held on to earn another contest against division rival Eden.
“We’ve been practicing hard,” Noman said. “The guys came, they really wanted it. I told them if you’re hungry we need to work hard, otherwise we’re going home crying. The boys worked hard.”