YORKSHIRE – Nerves were as heavy as a light snow dusted Pioneer High School.
Both Section VI Class C soccer championships were decided late, as Maple Grove bested I-Prep Grover, 2-1 in overtime, and Holland overtook Allegany-Limestone on the game’s lone goal with 3:21 remaining for the girls title.
Maple Grove senior forward Erik Olson scored both his team’s goals, including the game winner on a header with 9:24 remaining in the second golden-goal overtime.
“I’ve never felt better,” Olson said. “I saw a chance when I was coming down the field. I saw my teammate and I knew he was going to cross it. He gave me a great ball in front of the net and I finished it.”
I-Prep looked in control through the first half, but Olson knotted the score 36 minutes into the game when he rocketed in a free kick from 40 yards out. The score remained 1-1 until his decisive goal 75 minutes later.
“[I-Prep] had a lot of possession,” said Maple Grove head coach Kevin Beaton. “Obviously they’re a very skilled team. But we kept encouraging the guys to hang in there. In overtime, we had our break.”
In the girls final, it took Holland nearly 87 minutes to get on the board, but that crucial goal was all it needed to win, 1-0. Allegany-Limestone battled blow for blow, but Holland freshman forward Molly Zientek, who was called up from JV just three weeks ago, delivered with 3:21 remaining.
“I was thinking it was going way over and I just blew it, but it went right in the top corner,” Zientek said. “It was perfect. I was kind of in shock. I had to double check that it actually went in, and then I saw all my teammates running over to me and I started going crazy.”
Holland was the top-ranked team in Western New York last year, but was ruled ineligible for postseason play because the athletic department scheduled one too many regular-season games.
“It feels great after last year, especially, all the troubles we had,” said Holland head coach Leanne Gedraitis. “It’s great to come back and prove that we deserve to be here.”
Each team generated chances (Holland looked stronger in the first half, Allegany in the second), but neither could capitalize until Zientek dealt the deadly blow.
Maple Grove and Holland move on to the Far West Regionals, where they will face the Section V (Rochester area) champions.