In the first two chapters of Wednesday’s Section VI girls lacrosse championship tripleheader, Lancaster and Hamburg defended their titles by holding off very stingy efforts from teams that they had beaten twice during the regular season.
In the night’s last final at All High Stadium, Amherst flipped the script on Lake Shore as this season was concerned, but when you look at the history books, it should have come as no surprise.
Amherst, which had lost two close battles with Lake Shore this year, won its ninth straight sectional title with a 14-7 Class C championship victory in which junior Grace Lawson (eight goals) outscored the Eagles by herself.
“We knew we had some high standards to keep, and that’s what we did,” said Lawson, who also scored eight goals in last year’s final against Lake Shore. “We kept the tradition going.”
In Class A, Lancaster survived a tremendous comeback attempt by Frontier to win, 9-8, and give it eight Class A titles in the last nine years.
In Class B, West Seneca East made attempts to chase down Hamburg, but the Bulldogs stayed one step ahead as they earned their second straight title with a 14-9 victory.
The three Section VI champions move on to the historically very challenging Far West Regional round, in which they will take on the winners of Section V (Rochester area) Saturday at Eastridge High School.
Lancaster (17-1) will take on Penfield at 3 p.m., Amherst (11-6) plays Honeoye Falls-Lima in the Class C game at 5, and Hamburg (18-1) meets Brighton at 7. Winners of the regionals advance to the state semifinals; only once – Lancaster in 2008 – has a Section VI team defeated the Section V representative to advance to the final four.
Top-seeded Lancaster, which fell to second-seeded Frontier (13-4) two seasons ago before reclaiming the title last year with a 5-4 victory, built a 7-2 halftime lead and was up, 9-5, with 11:35 left, but had to hold on to the very last seconds.
Frontier did all the scoring the rest of the way to make it 9-8, and it had a free position opportunity – where a player’s path to the goal is cleared after a foul – from a tough angle about 15 yards out on the left side with about 20 seconds left.
The defense collapsed and forced a turnover, Hannah Reimer scooped up the ground ball, and Emily Sendker ran out the clock.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game; it always is with Frontier,” said Sendker, a senior. “It means the world to me – I’ve always said I would give up everything I’ve ever had to just make it to that state tournament. It’s my dream. It’s the whole team’s dream.”
Sendker had three goals and an assist for Lancaster while sophomore Grace Gabriel had one goal and three assists.
“Even being up, 7-2, at the half, we knew that this was going to be a tough game,” Lancaster coach Julie Buccieri said. “I felt we stepped up to the plate and took care of the ball, controlled the ball, controlled the pace of the game, and made our shots, so I’m proud of them.”
Seniors Amy Jordan and Hannah Christiansen each had two goals for Frontier.
“We wish we came back all the way and we wish we won, but we played so well,” Christiansen said. “Our team is all about heart and all about hustle and effort, and we showed it the entire game.”
Hamburg made it a lacrosse sweep of Class B – following the boys’ win Tuesday night at All High – as Niagara Unversity-bound Taylor Wolf scored three goals and the Bulldogs showed plenty of balance.
“It was definitely different from the first two times that we played them, and we expected it to be,” said Hamburg coach Katy Ryan, who is 48-8 in her three-year coaching career after she was a standout player for the Bulldogs.
Second-seeded West Seneca East (12-7), which won the Class B title in 2010 and was a runner-up in 2011, came to within 8-7 with 22:29 left when Amanda Rusczyzk scored on a free position shot. Hamburg, however, settled things with three straight goals.
Class C saw two teams face off that are used to playing close games.
Second-seeded Amherst beat top-seeded Lake Shore (12-4) in last year’s final in overtime, 16-13, while both of Lake Shore’s victories over the Tigers this season came by one goal.
Amherst jumped to a 4-1 lead and junior Emily Bitka was outstanding in goal, but Lake Shore surged back to cut the lead to 4-3 at halftime. Lawson scored four goals in the first 3:56 of the second half to give Amherst an 8-4 lead, and the Tigers kept rolling from there.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day since I took the job – the team has an incredible history,” said first-year Amherst coach Marissa Brown, a former Canisius College player. “They performed. I’m so proud of those girls.”