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Niagara Wheatfield boys soccer heads to first Far West Regional

Niagara Wheatfield’s boys soccer program is off to the Far West Regional in boys soccer for the first time in school history.

“This is uncharted territory for our school,” Falcons’ head coach John Coulter said following his team’s 2-0 victory over Williamsville South in the Class A title game Monday evening at Sweet Home High School. “It’s been a long time coming. There’s been a lot of good teams that have played here and we always seem to just fall shy. I’m very excited for these boys and excited for the alumni too. They’re sharing in this as well.”

Niagara Wheatfield controlled the tempo for the vast majority of the game, which led to Williamsville South mustering only three shots on net in 80 minutes.

“We’re a possession team,” Coulter said. “We create a lot of chances for ourselves. Sooner or later, you know it’s going to go in.”

As the Falcons want to play the possession game, scoring against them has been quite a daunting task for Western New York opposition this season.

Following Monday’s victory, the Falcons have conceded just five goals in 19 games, an average of 0.26 goals per game. In four playoff contests so far this year, the Falcons have allowed just one goal — an own goal in the Class A quarterfinal against McKinley.

Offensively, both teams couldn’t convert any of their opportunities until Jake Vallas scored the Falcons’ first goal in the game’s 66th minute.

“Brandon [Osetkowski] always likes to hit that cross crease [ball] and I was going to head it in,” Vallas said on scoring the game-winning goal, his team-leading 22nd of the season. “It was the last 10 minutes of the game. That could have been my last 10 minutes playing high school soccer. You just got to attack it.”

Ten minutes after Vallas’ goal, Ralph Wence scored to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead.

The Falcons (17-1-1) will continue their trip toward the state semifinals as they travel to Hilton High School in suburban Rochester on Friday for the Class A Far West Regional against the Section V’s Class A champion, Greece Athena or Pittsford Sutherland. Game time on Friday is slated for 7:30 p.m.

The Section V title game will be played Tuesday at 5 p.m.

“It’s a great feeling, honestly,” Vallas said of being able to play in the Falcons’ first Far West Regional game. “Growing up I was watching all the alumni that were here. I was at the 2013 sectional game and I remember one day I was like, ‘Man, I want to be there. I want to be in their shoes.’ Now, here we are.”

In the opening game of Monday’s doubleheader at Sweet Home, Lackawanna’s Ali Alomari helped the Steelers earn their second trip to the Far West Regionals in the last three years, defeating Eden in the Class B title game, 3-1.

Alomari scored the final two goals for the Steelers — one in each half — as the senior midfielder increased his goal total to 48, the most in Western New York.

“Ali is the heart of the team. Without Ali, I would have problems,” Abdul Noman, Lackawanna’s head coach, said. “Ali is the biggest factor [in] this win today. He is the best player in Western New York, no one will deny that.”

The first goal scored by Alomari gave Lackawanna a 2-0 lead. He scored three minutes, 21 seconds after Kamal Abdullah opened the scoring for the Steelers in the 19th minute.

Ali Alhoqobie pushed the ball ahead to Alomari, who then used tactical dribbling skills to evade multiple Raiders defenders before sending the ball into the lower left portion of the net.

“I just ran and I was pointing to [Alhoqobie] and he sent it,” Alomari said of his first goal. “He gave it to me and all I had to do was just cut right and shoot.”

The latter goal was a 25-yard shot that rocketed from Alomari’s right foot to the bottom right corner of the goal.

Trevor Masocco was the only Eden player to score as he headed in a cross pass three minutes into the second half.

Lackawanna (18-3) will play in the Far West Regionals at Hilton on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Steelers will play Section V’s Class B representative, either Bath-Haverling or Palmyra-Macedon, who play Tuesday at 5 p.m.

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