Often there are telltale signs a team is destined for greatness. There were no such indicators this season for the Holland girls soccer team.
They were starting eight underclassmen, including a first-year sophomore goalie. The team had a new coach as George Schmidt took over for Leanne Gedraitis (now coaching at Medaille), who had led the team to three Class C titles in the past five years.
The Lady Dutchmen flew in the face of conventional wisdom and won the New York State Class C title in games played at Cortland. They became part of an exclusive sorority in Section VI, joining Ellicottville (2003, 1999, 1998, and 1990) and Allegany-Limestone (2002) as the only teams to raise state title banners.
Playing an enormous role in the team’s success was sophomore Olivia Schmidt, who led Section VI in scoring with 48 goals, none bigger than a goal off a header to beat North Adirondack in the third overtime of the semifinal. For her efforts she has been named to the All-Western New York team chosen by a panel of area coaches.
Senior Carissima Cutrona of Williamsville South is a four-time pick while senior Meredith Licata of Williamsville North and senior Cailin Regan of Akron are repeat choices.
When Holland knocked off previously undefeated Keshequa in overtime in the Far West Regionals, it was a sign of good things to come.
Schmidt delivered in the semis with her game-winner against North Adirondack, leading to a game with Haldane, which had upset Lansing - the No. 1 ranked team in the state. Holland beat Haldane, 2-1, for the historic win.
“I’ve come to find out how much a state championship means in this small town since that weekend, as letters and emails of congratulations came pouring in,” coach Schmidt said. “A former coach, Russ Wiseman, who helped start the girls program at Holland back in the early 80’s, was at the games in Cortland cheering us on.”
Olivia Schmidt has 97 career goals in her four years as a starter, and has played on three Section VI championship teams. She has been named the state’s Class C Player of the Year, while her father has been recognized as the co-Coach of the Year.
South coach Kevin McNamara will tell you an athlete like Cutrona comes around once in a career. She’s a five-year starter who ends her career with 160 goals and 63 assists. Cutrona carried the Billies to a 20-1 record this season and helped them win their third consecutive Class A title. She will continue her career at Colgate.
Akron’s Regan has given her verbal to Division I Western Kentucky, she was discovered while playing on her under-16 Empire Academy Premier team. Just a junior, she has already played on three Section VI championship teams in her four years as a starter,
This year’s champions were: Clarence (Class AA), Williamsville South (Class A), Akron (Class B), Holland (Class C), Ellicottville (Class D) and Nardin (Monsignor Martin Association).
Licata has two sectional titles to show for her four years as a starter for North.
Three sophomores made the first team: Schmidt, Kara Daly of Hamburg and Sydney Cerza of Clarence. Cerza had 12 game-winning goals and scored in 17 of the Red Devils’ 19 contests.
Daly of Hamburg, Lauren Fibich of West Seneca West and Sarah Donohue of Nardin move up from the second team. The All-WNY goal keeper, Lauren Fibich of West Seneca West, endured a kick in the face against Lockport and was still able to earn a 2-0 shutout.
North Tonawanda junior defender Lauren Testa is one of the most gifted players Steve Sabo said he’s ever coached. She had nine assists as the Lady Jacks finished 13-4-1. “She’s so calm and composed, she has command of the entire field,” he said. “She prefers to carry the ball out of the back play a possession-style game.”
Senior defenseman Sarah Donohue led Nardin to an undefeated regular season MMA championship, and a playoff title by beating Nichols.
Molly Petrucci of City Honors dominated in the City of Buffalo’s Radcliffe Cup with 41 goals and 13 assists.
The most memorable goal for Emily Opalinski of Williamsville East was her game-winner on a penalty kick against East Aurora in the sectionals.