With the Section VI championship banner being held high for photo opportunities, the smiles on the entire Williamsville North field hockey squad glistened from ear to ear.
That’s generally the case after you win a section title, but the fitting touch was that everyone had their palms and all five fingers facing the plethora of cameras and cell phones.
For the fifth year in a row, the Spartans are the Section VI Class A champions. It is their 11th sectional title in the last 13 years.
Clarence’s Emma Muchow scored the game’s first goal, but then Williamsville North displayed its knack for offense as the Spartans countered the Red Devils opening goal with five of their own, coming away with a 5-3 victory at Alden High School on Tuesday.
Emma Roland scored four goals for the Spartans during their five-goal unanswered streak, aiding the Spartans’ offensive prowess that was put on full display on Alden’s all-blue turf.
Tuesday was the 14th time this season that Williamsville North scored at least three goals in a game and the 10th time it scored at least five goals in a game. It is the sixth consecutive game it has netted four-plus goals.
The victory over Clarence also was the fourth time during its five-year sectional title run that North has beat the Red Devils in the Class A title game, including each of the last three years.
“When we play Clarence, we always know it’s going to be a good game,” Roland said. “But no matter who we’re playing, we always want to go out hard, especially in these big playoff games.”
“The crosstown rivalry’s always been there,” Jessica Rys, Williamsville North’s head coach, added. “They get so excited for this game. It’s competitive and I’m really glad we came out with the win. Great effort on both team’s part.”
Hanna Shannon was the other goal scorer for the Spartans.
Madison Leeper scored twice in the second half for Clarence, which finishes the season with a 16-2 record. Both of its losses came against Williamsville North.
In the first game at Alden, Barker continued to dominate the Class C bracket as it earned its 10th section title in the last 12 seasons with a 4-0 victory over Eden.
“By getting to the state semifinals last year, that’s been the goal,” Barker head coach Jeff Costello said following his team’s win. “If we don’t get back to that point, and possibly beyond, it’s going to feel like a disappointment.”
Katrina Clare had a three-point night (one goal, two assists) for Barker, while Rachel Hurtgam scored the first two goals for the Raiders.
“Coach always says we need to not just go to the wall, we need to break through it,” Clare said. “We always have these moments, like today, we were spreading the field, we were connecting our passes. We always need to be working together, seeing those passes, those shots and focusing on what we want. We want to go to states and we want to win.”
Hurtgam scored her first goal with 2:19 left in the first half. She then added her second goal with 18 minutes left in the second half.
“I think that took a little bit of the pressure off,” Costello said, regarding Hurtgam’s first goal. “I definitely think getting that goal, especially before halftime, allowed them to kind of exhale.
To conclude the trio of championship games at Alden, Williamsville East secured its first section title with a 2-1 victory over Iroquois in the Class B bracket.
Williamsville East had not had success beating Iroquois in recent playoff meetings, having been eliminated by the Chiefs three times in the last four years.
Iroquois also ousted the Flames in the championship game in 1988, per Flames head coach Erin Rajczak.
“Pete [Tonsoline] always has a strong team,” Rajczak said. “No matter what year it is, he doesn’t rebuild, he just reloads. He’s a great guy, great coach and he’s got a strong team, but these girls came to play tonight.”
Jenna Cavalieri scored both goals — one on a penalty stroke to tie the game prior to halftime — for the Flames after Iroquois took the lead off a goal by Quinn Wierzbowski.
“It’s amazing to think we even had this chance to come here, win this game and be the first to go to regionals,” Cavalieri said. “It’s an amazing feeling. Our team has been the closest it’s ever been in the last three or four years I’ve been on this team. It’s just great to have such a close-knit team.”
Williamsville East (18-1) will face Pittsford Mendon in the Far West Regionals on Saturday at 1 p.m. Barker (16-3) and Williamsville North (16-1) will both play at 11 a.m. on Saturday against East Rochester and Penfield, respectively. All games will be held at Williamsville North.