Western New York’s top large schools, according to the latest coaches poll, held serve Saturday.
Top-ranked Clarence scored with just under three minutes left to tie the game at 1-1 and then stunned Lockport in penalty kicks to win the Class AA Championship, 2-1, before an estimated 500 fans at Hamburg High School’s Howe Field. The teams are considered co-champions as per Section VI rules.
In the opener, No. 2 Williamsville East beat Riverside, 3-0, for the overall Class A crown. The Red Devils (19-0) and Flames (20-0) will play the Section V (Rochester area) champions in the Far West Regionals next weekend at the same site.
“We said going into the game it didn’t matter about talent — it mattered about character, determination and heart and we showed it today,” Clarence coach Mike Silverstein said following his team’s fifth straight sectional title.
After putting pressure on Lockport throughout the second half, Brendan Law finally netted the equalizer for Clarence with 2:50 remaining in regulation. Law, who had narrowly missed on a pair of chances within 10 yards earlier in the half, slammed home a beautiful cross off the foot of Taylor Helms.
“We were throwing everybody forward in that situation,” Silverstein said. “We knew we wanted to work the ball wide all day. Things happen when you throw the ball in the mix.”
During the shootout, Victor Powell, Sam Wasson and Joe Rosenberry scored for the Red Devils, while goalkeeper Michael Biedney turned away all three of the Lions’ attempts.
Lockport’s Alex Reid scored the game’s first goal on a rebound late in the first half. He also had a clear shot on net turned away by Biedney with 50 seconds left in regulation. Injuries, though, forced Reid and several of his teammates to miss extended periods of the game. Lockport finishes 18-1.
In the first game, teamwork defined Williamsville East’s victory just as it has all season. Brandon Schick, Nick Skibitsky and Brett Librock each netted a goal, all of which were from point-blank range after Riverside goalkeeper Sah Moo failed to corral the ball.
“This group has been together for a lot of years and that includes also being together in the summer,” Flames coach Jeff Librock said after his program’s first sectional title since 2006. “They have a lot of respect for each other.”
Junior Geegba had two solid chances for the A-2 champion Frontiersmen (16-1), who had not allowed a goal all season until Saturday.