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A winning weekend: One Friday down, one Saturday to go

Football, cross country, soccer, volleyball, field hockey. A total of 17 team championships.

The first weekend of November is traditionally one of the busiest of the high school sports year, and Friday was packed with action.

Check out seven stories and our scoreboard at the high school home page (and of course, go buy the paper itself :-) ).

There's more to come today -- more football, more soccer, more field hockey, more volleyball. Eleven Section VI titles are on the line in three sports while the boys volleyball final fours are being held at Orchard Park. Berths in the Monsignor Martin football championships are up for grabs, as is the final spot in the Harvard Cup playoffs.

Stay tuned to Prep Talk Live for the football action from The Ralph. Our accounts of Friday's games are below.

We'll provide scoring updates (from all sports) from throughout Western New York when we get them, and you can feel free to chime in as well.

As always, if you are at a game, let us know what you thought of the action, no matter what the sport. There are links to discuss every fall sport at the high school home page.

---Keith McShea

Extra extra: Read all about city boys soccer and a great Thursday night

Check out the bonus edition of Friday's High School Extra, which includes some great information collected by News Sports Reporter Miguel Rodriguez on Friday night's Class B boys soccer title game between Buffalo Public Schools City Honors and Grover Cleveland

There is also a ton on Thursday night's playoff action from soccer to volleyball to field hockey from across Western New York.

Speaking of a ton of action:

* Jay Skurski has the story on North Tonawanda and Hamburg winning girls volleyball titles.

* Correspondent Lauren Mariacher covers the Section VI girls gymnastics meet won by Frontier's Nicole Radon.

---Keith McShea

Who's going to win in Section VI boys soccer?

The brackets are out, so let's get kicking.

Time to make your voice heard on which teams you think will win Section VI championships in boys soccer. If your team is in the bracket, your team is on the ballot. 

Continue reading "Who's going to win in Section VI boys soccer?" »

Who's going to win in Section VI girls soccer?

Is another Grand Island-Williamsville East showdown inevitable in Class A? Will it be the Niagara Frontier League or ECIC I in Class AA? Will East Aurora repeat in Class B?

Time to scan the brackets and make your voice heard on which teams you think will win Section VI championships in girls soccer.

We're equal opportunity pollsters: If your team is in the bracket, your team is on the ballot. 

Continue reading "Who's going to win in Section VI girls soccer?" »

More sights and sounds from Cheektowaga boys soccer

Last week I headed out to do research on the fine boys soccer seasons going on in Cheektowaga -- both for Maryvale and the Warriors of "Central" (that's Cheektowaga Central to those who only visit the Galleria or the airport and aren't down with the lingo).

Maryvale is hoping to fill up the blank banner that hangs in the gym, so they keep a reminder of it in their locker room. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) Cheektowaga was undefeated -- up until Monday night, hours before my story had to be finalized for Tuesday's Scholastic Spotlight. Call it the Spotlight jinx -- I did a story on Iroquois golf being undefeated a few weeks ago, and the Chiefs lost on the Monday before the story came out.

It's always great to get out and see teams in their own environment. Even just a few moments spent with Cheektowaga before their game and watching them play the first half against Springville last Thursday gave me a good look at a team that has come a long way.

I saw their photo of their empty banner in the locker room and snapped a shot of it. Despite Cheektowaga's 3-1 loss to Maryvale Monday night, the Warriors can still wrap up the school's first soccer championship of any kind on Wednesday at home against winless Pioneer.

After seeing Cheektowaga take a 2-0 first-half lead in what would be a 3-1 win over Springville, I headed up Union Road to Maryvale, were I saw them finish off a 3-0 victory over Depew. Included was an extremely pretty goal which began with a one-touch from a midfielder to the left wing to Dan Fox, who one-touched it back across the middle, where Jared Starzynski one-touched it into the net. Great stuff.

Cheektowaga's first loss of the season didn't exactly mess up my story -- since it was a loss to Maryvale it actually worked right into the storyline of how both teams from the town are having great seasons.

Both programs' coaches -- Cheektowaga's Matt Haberl and Maryvale's Tom Staebell -- lauded the Cheektowaga Soccer Club for aiding in player development in the town. Check out the Cheektowaga Soccer Club site here.

Here are a couple of plays from Cheektowaga's game against Springville -- one goal (where the ball girl had her head in the game) and one save.

---Keith McShea

St. Francis soccer kicking against cancer

Monday's boys soccer matchup of St. Joe's at St. Francis should be a great one on the field -- and it should be a great night no matter how the game ends up.

The 7 p.m. game is part of St. Francis' dedication of their season to Kicks Against Breast Cancer.

St. Francis assistant coach Jason Cretacci passed along a note explaining that "Kicks Against Breast Cancer is American soccer’s initiative to raise money to help find a cure for breast cancer and to help women living with cancer to survive and thrive." U.S. National Team and Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan is serving as the first spokesman for the initiative.

Throughout the year the St. Francis will be wearing a pink patch on their left shoulder to show their support, while during Monday's game the teams will use a special pink Kicks Against Cancer soccer ball.

Check out some more info here.

---Keith McShea

Will North field hockey on a roll

Check out the High School Extra for a busy Wednesday of fall sports. Here are some extra notes from around the fields:

* * *

Williamsville North field hockey coach Kris LaPaglia has the Spartans firing on all cylinders early this season. The latest example: an 8-0 domination of Holland.

"We're working well as a team right now and we have a lot of kids who can be offensive threats," LaPaglia said.

Playing that role Wednesday was junior Alley Ahern, who had four goals.

 "This is a big year for her," LaPaglia said. "She's been with me for a couple of years now and her game has really improved. Her skill level is very high."

Nikki Atkins added a hat trick and backup sophomore goalie Alayna Wageman got the shutout. The Spartans are now 4-0 on the season.

* * *

 In girls soccer action, Jackie April had the game-winning goal midway through the second second half as Orchard Park stayed unbeaten at 3-0 in ECIC I with a 2-1 win over Frontier.

Nichols senior Bri Smith had all five goals in her team's 5-0 shutout of Sacred Heart in Monsignor Martin action. Smith now has 19 goals in seven games after scoring 59 a season ago. Bethany Novak and Meaghan Heldwein split the shutout in goal for the Vikings (6-1).

---Jay Skurski

Big weekend on several fall fields

Football is obviously the big sport in the fall, but this opening weekend is even bigger when you consider the big events that are getting other seasons started.

* * *

In today's paper we mentioned two boys soccer events, the Clarence Tournament and the Coaches V. Cancer ECIC-NFL Challenge at Sweet Home. The Clarence event speaks for itself with top teams East Aurora, Nichols and Kenmore East visiting.

The Sweet Home event has organizers wondering aloud if it is the largest boys soccer event to be held in Western New York. With five games on Friday and five on Saturday, I can't think of anything of that scope.

It's a great format and a great cause. Officials will wear a commemorative shirt to honor former longtime Western New York official Tom Mingle, who passed away on Sept. 5, 2008. The officials -- who are donating all of their game fees to cancer research -- will make a presentation to Tom's family during halftime of the Sweet Home/North Tonawanda game at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.

The format of the event is two points for a win and one point for a tie; if the two leagues are tied the tiebreaker is fewest goals allowed.

Here's the lineup:

Friday's games
Sweet Home vs. Kenmore West, 2 p.m.
Wmsv. East vs. North Tonawanda, 4 p.m.
Wmsv. North vs. Niagara Falls, 4 p.m.
Wmsv. South vs. Lew-Port, 6 p.m.
Hamburg vs. Niagara-Wheatfield, 6 p.m.
Saturday's games
Wmsv. North vs. Lew-Port, 10 a.m.
Wmsv. East vs. Niagara-Wheatfield, 10 a.m.
Sweet Home vs. North Tonawanda, noon
Hamburg vs. Kenmore West, noon
Wmsv. South vs. Niagara Falls, 2 p.m.

Also, this afternoon is the first round for the Eden Kickoff Classic, which features the hosts meeting Springville and Pioneer taking on Roy-Hart; the winners meet Friday.

Friday just isn't opening night for football at Orchard Park, Rochester boys soccer power Aquinas will visit OP at 5 p.m.

Speaking of Aquinas, on Saturday the Little Irish host Canisius while the girls team hosts East Aurora.

* * *

Clarence also has a nice collection for its girls soccer tournament, held in conjunction with the boys. Friday's first-rounders are Nardin at Clarence and Nichols vs. Kenmore East.

Some nonleague girls soccer action Friday includes a great program showdown of Williamsville North at Grand Island as well as Williamsville South at North Tonawanda

* * *

Clarence just leads the league in big opening events -- the 23rd annual Clarence Invitational in boys volleyball includes a who's who of top teams in its 16-team field. Orchard Park, Canisius, Eden and St. Francis will be there. The tournament starts at 8 a.m.

Speaking of volleyball, the boys get some serious bump-set-spiking in tonight as OP -- which went undefeated last year -- opens against St. Francis at home at 7 p.m.

On Friday, Catholic girls state champion St. Mary's opens up at Victor of Section V (Rochester area) while Williamsville North is at Starpoint.

* * *

All that and even boys basketball (!) sneaking in with the Elia Tournament at Niagara Falls

---Keith McShea

All-WNY soccer teams published

The snow wiped out most of the schedule, but there is plenty for high school fans in Tuesday's paper.

Regular Tuesday feature Scholastic Spotlight includes stories on boys swimming and wrestling and a ton of info, including the first girls basketball polls of the season and the first individual wrestling rankings from the Wrestling Review of Western New York.

There's also an entire page devoted to 2008 boys soccer, including the All-Western New York team, all of the all-league teams and a wrapup story. For a peek at some of the data I used to write the wrapup, check out this information I dug up from our own record books. If you go year by year on that list, you'll see that 2008 was a special year for Section VI soccer.

The girls soccer All-WNY and season wrapup package were published Thursday.

---Keith McShea

More from the boys soccer state championships

Some headers, quick kicks and a cleaning-out of the notebook after thawing out from Sunday's state finals:

There is something very cool about holding the state championships at your country's Hall of Fame for the sport, and it has to make the experience that much more special for the competitors.

The complex is a great hosting site as well -- I can't imagine other schools or sites which could host five finals in one day (or 10 semifinals on another) in the same area. Having the fields so close to another gives the day a festival-like feel. When you're at one field watching one game, you hear roars from time to time on the others -- it's kind of like being at a golf tournament and hearing reactions on other holes.

Each of the five championship games is followed by a neat closing ceremony in the large lobby of the Hall of Fame. A stairway becomes something of a stage as all of the players from the final two teams are called up until the stairway is filled with both teams. A very nice touch.

"Our thanks to everyone here at the Hall of Fame for making this an amazing weekend," said EA coach Kevin Beale.

"It's one of the best experience I ever had," said senior Kevin Kot. "The team was great, a great group of guys who are fun to be around. The fans made the experience the best -- driving five hours to watch us play soccer in cold weather was just great."

• • •

Class B state final: Bronxville 2, East Aurora 0

First half: EA's first threat comes on a charge down the left wing by junior Barry Hunt about eight minutes in; Hunt would pressure the Bronxville defense all day and force several corners. ... A long shot by Hunt is saved with 26:85 to go. ... Sophomore defender Frank Moynihan makes one of several nice plays in the back. ... Bronxville goalie Remy Griggs made a nice save on EA junior midfielder Devin Aiken's left-footer off a scramble in the box. ... Bronxville takes a 1-0 lead on Brian Rogers' goal with 17:20 left. After a stretch of EA pressure, a clearing ball is sent forward, far enough that EA goalie Dan Coulter comes off his line. Sweeper Ben Kolich gets to it and tries to clear, but Rogers gets his foot on it to push the ball up the right wing; he gets to it and scores on a tough-angle shot that deflects off the retreating Colter. ... Coulter makes a nice in-close save on Ilya Dubinski. ... Joe Raczynski's cross off of a Kurt Knolle through ball, nearly lead to an own goal on Bronxville as a defender deflected the ball just over the Broncos' crossbar. ... Raczynski's header off of a Knolle corner kick goes wide left. ... Kot's cross is picked off by goalie Griggs ... Proving very dangerous despite having fewer chances, a Bronxville player has a left-footed liner go wide left. ... EA had four corner kicks in the first half.

Second half: Rogers follows a nice trap with a long shot that's saved by Coulter. ... Less than two minutes in, EA's Devin Aiken appears to be pushed down by a Bronxville defender just inside the penalty box on the right wing, but there's no call. ... A cross by EA junior Shane Healy forces a corner kick, but like much of the half, the Blue Devils' pressure doesn't lead to quality scoring chances. ... Noble Carpenter's header goes over the East Aurora goal. ... Kot's header off a free kick by Knolle goes wide left. ... Briggs saves a Racynski shot off a through ball by Knolle with 26:15 left. ... Kolich neatly rides a Bronxville player off the ball. ... Perhaps EA's best chance of the day is Hunt's shot that goes over the net with 22 minutes left after some tense moments in the box for Bronxville. ... Nice save by Coulter of a Rogers header off a cross with 12:15 left. ... As EA moves forward, that has resulted in some chances for Bronxville -- Coulter knocks a ball over the net for a nice save on Carpenter. ... Kot tries a flip-throw-in from the right sideline in the Bronxville end. ... With about a minute left, Rogers scores again and Bronxville has its 2-0 lead. He beat an EA player to a ball sent into the EA half and neatly popped it over the onrushing Coulter.   

EA coach Kevin Beale: "It was a beautiful game - he made plays, their backs were really tough on us in the final third. We played well. At halftime we were pleased - we felt we could attack and pressure and ccreate something in the box. We thoguth they looked a little vulnerable. In the second half they defended a lot better. They were tight. We moved the ball, we were pleased, we're pleased with the effort. In the second half we never really got the quality look at the goal that we thought we could.

"Our young guys did well. Our defenders didn't allow [Rogers] to turn, they did awesome on him. Frank Moynihan played great on him."

EA senior forward Kevin Kot: "They had a really solid defense. For 75 percent of the game we were controlling most of the play in their half. We just really couldn't get it together and get quality chances in on the net. That made the difference. ... No. 10 [Rogers] kind of made their team."

EA senior sweeper Ben Kolich: "We just couldn't develop that final pass into the box.

"At the end of last season we lost 11 great seniros. I had no idea tha tthe younger underclassmen could actually support us, but they really did and I'm really proud of them all. Because of what they did, we were able to get here."

• • •

Class AA state final: Brentwood 2, Clarence 1

First half: While Brentwood's speed and skill are clearly evident, Clarence is hanging in there -- David D'Amico has a shot go wide left seven minutes in, and Ben Scalzi has a shot go wide right about four minutes later. ... Norvin Acosta, a tall player who loomed large all game, fires a shot over the Clarence goal with 26:40 left. ... Brentwood takes a 1-0 lead with 25:30 left by taking advantage of a free kick in the middle of the field with a nicely executed play. Christian Galindo tapped a dummy pass through the legs of Acosta and a reared-up Joseph Lopez let go of an absolute surface-to-top-right-corner missile. Just a great play. ... Galindo blasts a shot over the goal soon after. ... A nice win by Derek Maier leads to a Clarence corner by Chris Cournan, but not much else. ... Clarence's Alex Stephan shoots wide left wth 17:30 to go. ... Clarence goalie Nate Konitzer makes a save of a weak shot by Julio Olivares with 15:00 left. ... Galindo is in deep down the left wing but his shot hits the side of the net. ... Lopez has a shot which Konitzer makes a nice adjustment on for the save. ... Olivares' low shot is saved by Konitzer. ... Another Olivares shot is deflected wide to give Brentwood a corner. ... Joyser Velasquez shoots the ball over the net with 10:00 left as the Indians keep pressuring Clarence. ... Tyler Hamill can't catch up with a crossing pass by Scott Berardi. ... Lopez and his quick feet threaten down the left wing, but his cross goes harmlessly through with 6:00 left. ... Clarence ties the game at 1-1 with 4:47 left in the half on a very nice goal by Hamill. Maier sent a great through ball down the middle for Hamill, whose first touch put the ball nicely past the onrushing keeper and into the goal. ... But Brentwood comes right back, taking a 2-1 lead wtih 3:13 left when Lopez pounds in a shot from the right wing after a through ball from Hancell Guevara. Some Clarence defenders are complaining that the play was offsides (certainly impossible to tell from my angle at midfield). ... D'Amico has a shot go over the net with 2:55 left. ... Maier is given a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct inside two-minute mark (when time is kept on the field).

Second half: Full disclosure -- the second half started with me interviewing some EA players, but I kept one eye on the game in which it didn't seem anything significant happened ... Brentwood's Velasquez recieves a yellow card for a hard foul with 27:12 left. ... The free kick is taken by Stephan, Hamill has a shot blocked and Maier's blast goes over the crossbar. ... Hamill sends a ball to Scalzi, whose shot to the upper-right corner is handled by Brentwood goalie Dan Hernandez. ... Stephan crosses for Hamill, who isn't able to get much on a header which is saved with 24:35 left. ... Off of a free kick, Hamill lets go of a great, hard shot from the right side that sails just past the far upper corner with 22:20 left. ... Konitzer makes a great, diving save on Guevara with 19:00 left. ... Another nice save by Kontizer as he knocks Andrew Jean-Baptiste's shot over the crossbar with 15:10 left. ... Scalzi gets a yellow card with 12:23 left after a foul. ... Stephan helps create Clarence's last best chance. Maier crosses to Hamill, whose header is saved inside the final two minutes.

Clarence senior Tyler Hamill, in a sentence that sounded like most opponents' description of Clarence this season, said of Brentwood: "They were really fast, a quick team with a lot of skill."

Clarence senior goalie Nate Konitzer: "This memory will last a lifetime."

Clarence coach Mike Silverstein: "They're a great team. We couldn't really get any quality chances. Nate was outstanding.

"[Brentwood] is so quick off the ball. That was something we don't see a lot of. That's usually our card, we're quick and aggressive, but their team speed was great."

• • •

At the final whistle, Brentwood fans celebrated with the team on the field -- one supporter is overjoyed enough that he embraces the referees as they are walking across the field. "Just a very happy fan," says a smiling linesman.    

Brentwood's title came in its third trip to the final four in four years. It lost in the final in 2006 and in the semifinals the previous year. The Indians' state title is its second since it shared the Class A (then the largest class) title with Guilderland in 1989.

Brentwood coach Ron Eden is the nephew of outstanding former longtime North Babylon coach John Eden. In Brentwood's 1989 championship season, Ron Eden was an assistant coach for Brentwood, which beat John Eden and North Babylon in the Suffolk County playoffs (I know that because I was a bench-warmer for NB :-) ).

---Keith McShea

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

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