Just 90 seconds into the Section VI Class A-1 championship game, Laura Bogner, senior captain for top-seeded Hamburg, put 27 years worth of frustration and disappointment into a 30-yard direct kick and it went squarely to the back-left corner of the net.
From then on, there was nothing their opponents, the No. 2 North Tonawanda Lumberjacks, could do as the Bulldogs won 3-0 on Saturday at Williamsville East High School to earn their first sectional title since 1992.
“It was a long time coming,” Hamburg coach Tom Zugger said. “They played so well together today. They really, really wanted this win. I don’t think we’ve never been more ready to play a game then we were today.”
Bogner, who only had 7 tallies coming into the game, scored her second goal on a direct kick in nearly the same spot 10 minutes later as the Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead.
“It’s crazy because we were talking about this at the beginning of the season and now it’s real,” Bogner said. “All of the effort we’ve put in this season, all the hot practices in 80-degree weather and all of the freezing practices in the pouring rain all paid off for this moment.”
Early in the second half, Claire Danyluk found Maddie Ingraham for the game’s final goal.
The Bulldogs will play the A-2 champion, Grand Island Vikings, who needed overtime to beat the Amherst Tigers 2-0, on Tuesday at 8 p.m. for the overall Class A title, also at Williamsville East.
The Vikings needed their senior captains to shine Saturday as well.
GI senior goalkeeper Lydia Sweeney stepped up in a big way for her team, stopping plenty of strong Amherst scoring chances before her team could find the back of the net.
“What you saw out there is the least of what she does for us,” GI coach Dave Bowman said of Sweeney, one of four captains the Vikings have. “As a leader she’s phenomenal. She’s rallies the team and she’s just a great, great kid. She steps up when it’s big and makes the stops. I’m going to miss her as a kid just as much as a player.”
Fellow captain Brooke Amato fired it from 15 yards away exactly three minutes into the first overtime for the first goal.
From that point on, the Vikings took control of the game.
“Brooke is always dangerous,” Bowman said. “All game long she is someone you have to watch. Just things weren’t going her way early so I told her to keep working. She got an opportunity and she did what Brooke does, finish when it’s most important.”
Freshman Ella Rudney scored the Vikings’ final goal into the top left corner with six seconds left in the first overtime as the Vikings retuned to sectional championship glory after falling to Williamsville East last year in the A-1 semifinals.
According to Sweeney, last season’s ending has been on the minds of the Vikings, who had won Section VI Championships in 2016 and 2017, all year long.
“It motivated us a lot,” Sweeney said. “It left a really sour taste in our mouths and was a bad way to go out. We’ve learned a lot from it and improved.”