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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

Live from the boys soccer state championships

ONEONTA -- Hello there from the National Soccer Hall of Fame Complex, where East Aurora and Clarence will both be playing for state championships today.

East Aurora is playing Bronxville in the Class B final at 11 a.m. and Clarence is taking on Brentwood of Section XI (Suffolk County, L.I.) in the AA championship at 1 p.m.

Brentwood is ranked first in the country by while Clarence is 35th. The teams are also quite high in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America rankings. In the national poll, Brentwood is 13th and Clarence is 17th. In the Region II (New York state) rankings, St. Anthony's of Long Island is first, Brentwood second and Clarence third. In the state sportswriters poll, Brentwood is ranked first in Class AA with Clarence second.

10:33 a.m. After watching five Far West Regional football games in the span of 24 hours at UB, I arrived in Oneonta about 12 hours after finishing my football stories last night.

It's quite cold and windy with some flurries floating around as we sit and type in our car. There doesn't appear to be power outlets available near the fields, so we'll have to use our battery sparingly -- I'll provide updates after the halves at the very least. We'll see.

11:41 a.m. It's halftime of the Class B final and Bronxville has a 1-0 lead. Senior Brian Rogers got in front of a clearing attempt by EA's Ben Kolich, then chased down the ball on the right side of the goal and banked it in off of goalkeeper Dan Coulter. Coulter was brought off his line on an initial long through ball on a Bronxville counter-attack.

It's been a back-and-forth half in which EA has had most of the play and most of the chances. Bronxville has proven very dangerous in counter-attacks.

It is COLD. And there's no power available. I had hope when I saw that they were running the scoreboard and PA operations at the scorer's table -- actually a picnic table. Then I followed the wires -- those mechanisms are being powered by a car battery.

12:34 p.m. East Aurora loses, 2-0. More coming later.

2:13 p.m. Clarence is trailing, 2-1, with 20 minutes left in the AA championship. Tyler Hamill scored in the first half for the Red Devils. Did I mention it is cold? I can't feel my fingers.

2:38 p.m. It's a final: Brentwood wins, 2-0. Brrrrrrrr.

6:42 p.m. Hello from my buddy's house in Rochester after the drive from Oneonta. Sorry about the lack of details, but there was no time to type, not that I could with my freezing fingers. My feet were literally numb on the walk to the car after the AA final. I had to fire up the car, turn on the heat and hit the road.

At halftime of the AA game, I wasn't able to update things because I was interviewing some EA players (thanks to coach Kevin Beale tracking me down after the B game's closing ceremony, which lasted well into the first half of the Clarence game).

Brentwood was quicker and more skilled than Clarence, which local fans know is saying a lot. It looked to me like a team that deserved its national rankings. The Red Devils certainly represented themselves well, however.

So did the Blue Devils. The second goal against EA was a byproduct of the Blue Devils pushing up late in the game. Bronxville was an extremely solid and composed squad with a stellar player up top in Rogers, who also scored the second goal.

More details to come in the story in Monday's paper -- which I'm sitting down to write right now.

---Keith McShea

Who's coming home with a state title?

Football, schmootball.

Nine Section VI fall sports champions are heading to state final fours this weekend. So who will come home with a state championship?

Click your way to the NYSPHSAA site for brackets, times, dates and matchups for the final fours. Here's a cool page devoted to the boys soccer championships from the host National Soccer Hall of Fame's site.

Let us know how and why you voted in the comments section.

---Keith McShea

More from the states & regionals

Here are some additional details from a tremendously busy weekend in fall sports (read the roundup from the paper here).

• • •

It was a great day for Williamsville field hockey. While Williamsville North continued to show that it is one of the top programs in the state, Williamsville South enjoyed a return to the state final four.

South won its first Far West Regional game since 1998 by beating Eastridge, 2-1. The 1998 team was led by Julie Gentner, who attended Saturday's game at Brighton with her daughter, Ella.

Senior Ashley Ferenczy scored with seven minutes left in the first half on an assist from Shannon Martin to get the Billies in front. Sophomore Alison Ferenczy got what proved to be the winner with 23 minutes left with a tap-in after the ball had gotten behind and out of the sight of the Eastridge goalie. Eastridge's goal came with four minutes left on a scramble in front of the net.

Defending Class A state champion Williamsville North defeated Webster Thomas, 2-0, to advance to the state final four for the fourth time in the last six years.

North (18-1-1) went in front in the first half when Chelsea Smith scored on a rebound. The Spartans added their second goal with six minutes left when Allie Ahern scored off a corner. Holly Flanigan assisted on both goals.

North goalie Jess Wess had seven saves to shut out Webster (13-2-2).

"It was great for her to step up to this challenge today," said North coach Kris LaPaglia. "Both teams had multiple chances. She has to be really aggressive and came out and played the ball more than she normally does. She cleared the ball out so quickly she didn't give Webster a rebound shot."

• • •

Not that they needed to prove it, but Eden showed yet another reason why it is one of the very best girls volleyball programs in the state when swept Palmyra-Macedon in the Far West Regionals -- without top player Heather Henry, a University of North Carolina recruit.

A loose ball found its way under her feet in warmups.

"She came down with a really loud thud," said coach Stephen Pierce. "Heather came down hard on the ball. She tried to play in the first game and she couldn't jump, so we yanked her."

Seniors Janine Benkelman (14 kills) and junior Katie Eschner (nine kills, seven blocks) were among the Raiders to stepped up as the team improved to 46-1.

"They [Pal-Mac] were a first-time team there. They were pretty tight," said Pierce. "They had a big crowd, but we took them out of it early."

• • •

Salamanca kept its landmark season going, following its first Section VI title by improving to 19-0 with a sweep of Nazareth.

"They were the first team we didn't know anything about other than they are usually a very good team," said coach Tom Roof. "I figured if was can play defense, pass and get the ball to our hitters, we'll be in good shape. And that's the way it played out."

Ashley Abrams had 13 kills, Kaite Auge added 10 and Hannah Reynolds had eight kills and four blocks. Setter Brittany Haines had 39 assists for Salamanca, which has eight seniors among its 10 players.

The Warriors have won 18 of their matches via sweeps. Randolph was the only team to take Salamanca beyond three games, losing a five-set match.

• • •

The Orchard Park boys volleyball team's perfect finish of 34-0 came thanks to top performances by top players Mike Stefani (hitting percentage of 70), Pat Schwagler (eight aces) and Tom Comfort in a championship sweep of Burnt Hills of Section II (Albany area).

"[Comfort] was at least something like 15 for 17 on the right side," said coach Matt Lexner. "When we got the ball to him, he'd be automatic."

As for his team, Lexner said: "They never cracked under any situation."

• • •

The Clarence girls soccer program had a much closer call than its last trip to the Far West Regionals, when it lost a 4-0 game to Aquinas in 2006. The Red Devils fell in overtime to Fairport, 1-0.

"It was a nice goal on their part," said coach Tim Liffiton. "They crossed it from the left side of the field, the girl from the right side took it and it was a great shot by the kid. My goalie really had no chance."

It was the sixth straight shutout for Fairport, which last reached the semis in 1983.

• • •

The Nichols girls soccer team will try to win the state Catholic championship at noon today at home when it takes on Long Island's Sacred Heart, which won the title three straight years from 2005-07. The Vikings reached the title game last year, losing to St. Anthony's, 6-2.

• • •

Section VI's boys gymanstics team won the state regional title partly because of its performance in the high bar -- it swept the top four spots: Nathaniel Roberson (Williamsville South), J.Z. Zirna (Clarence), Eric Niedermeier (Clarence), Adam Arena (Clarence).

---Keith McShea & Mary Jo Monnin

Some quick notes on soccer (very quick for Clarence)

There were times Monday evening when I felt like I was watching fast-break basketball ... crossed with run-and-gun football ... crossed with a track meet.

In a soccer game.

That's how fast Clarence was playing on the artificial turf at Amherst High during their 3-0 win over Lockport. The Red Devils' skill and speed made for quite combination -- especially on the turf. Quick feet settling the ball, quick passes, long through balls and sprinters chasing them down.

"The turf totally favors us," said senior Ben Scalzi. "With our skill, turf is the right surface for us."

Clarence takes on Section V champion Webster Thomas tonight at 7:30 in the Far West Regionals, and it has to be an advantage that the game is back on the Amherst turf.

"We haven't played on turf, and I was worried we were going to be touching the ball too far in front of us and have it go out of bounds," said Clarence coach Mike Silverstein. "But we got a couple of practices in on turf. Tyler [Hamill] and Ben [Scalzi] and David [D'Amico] can just take off on this. What they can do on the turf is tremendous -- their skill really comes out on turf."

"We're so much faster on this than grass," said Hamill.

Three-time Section V (Rochester area) champion Webster Thomas will provide a serious challenge to the Red Devils, as all Section V soccer teams do in the regional round. Thomas beat Williamsville North last year on its way to the state finals.

Clarence is fifth in the Region II (New York State) of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, while Thomas is 10th. Clarence is also among other teams receiving votes outside of the NSCAA's national Top 25.

Not that those rankings mean that much, as Webster Thomas would tell you as quick as a Clarence fast break. Last year, Williamsville North entered the regional round ranked fifth in the country and first in Region II as it hadn't lost a game -- until a 2-0 loss to Thomas.

For what it's worth -- and it might not be worth much based on solely two games a year apart -- but the Clarence team I watched Monday was a much better team than the Williamsville North squad I watched beat Clarence in last year's final.

• • •

Thomas might be saying: Not so fast, Clarence. Judging from the Democrat & Chronicle's game story about the Titans' Section V victory over Fairport, they can move the ball quite quickly as well.

• • •

Speaking of the D&C, check out their Varsity Voices podcast as my fellow high schools/Empire State Games/auto racing reporting buddy James Johnson and Jeff DiVeronica size up what's going on a few Thruway exits away in Section V this week. Webster Thomas' soccer team is discussed, as are this weekend's football championships -- and of course, Section VI-ers will be interested in seeing who wins those games.    

• • •

Back to that NSCAA national poll for a second. The No. 2 team is St. Anthony's of Long Island, which is Nichols' opponent tonight in the Catholic semifinals at Adelphi University.

St. Anthony's beat Chaminade in the Long Island final, 3-2. Check out what has to be one of the best unofficial sites for a high school in the state at

• • •

Talk about double-takes. If you think you keep seeing the same schools in soccer this postseason, don't be alarmed.

Clarence (Class AA), East Aurora (B), Holland (C) and Maple Grove (D) all swept both the boys and girls Section VI championships and are competing in various locales in the regional round this weekend.

Nichols also won the boys and girls titles in the Monsignor Martin Association -- while the boys are on Long Island, the girls host the state Catholic semifinals Saturday and the championship on Sunday.

---Keith McShea 

Live from Clarence soccer's Class AA sweep

We're live at Amherst High's Dimp Wagner Field for the Section VI Class AA soccer championship doubleheader. Clarence is involved in both games, first taking on Williamsville North in a 5 p.m. start, followed by the Red Devil boys against Lockport at 7 p.m.

6:03 p.m. We're finally online from a very tiny press box but I'm not sure how often I'll be able to provide updates. We had to copy over the Williamsville North roster by hand because there are no programs at the Section VI soccer championships. Insert your own head-shaking expression of exasperation here.

We're about 15 minutes into the second half and the Clarence girls lead, 1-0.  Clarence got their goal with 6:32 left in what was an evenly-played first half. Junior Alexandra Rohloff scored off a pretty play off of a free kick. The kick came from about 30 yards out, was tipped on by a player around the 18-yard line to an open Rohloff, who rolled the ball into the left side of the net. I'll be getting the names of the other players involved in the play after the game -- it's tough to see those numbers from afar.

6:18 p.m. We've got less than 15 minutes remaining. Clarence just had a nice chance off of a free kick, but sophomore Laura Scalzi's header was tracked down by North senior goalie Courtney Ball.

6:22 p.m. We have a 1-1 tie with 13:13 left, thanks to some great hustle by North junior forward Kristi Putzig. Putzig chased a ball send ahead down the left side, beat out two defenders to get a foot on it just as Clarence goalie came to the edge of the box to try and get in front of it. Putzig's tip sent it past the goalie and enabled freshman forward Alexis Kroes to chase it down and touch it into an open net.

6:36 p.m. We're going to overtime. There will be two 10-minute sessions no matter if there's any scoring. If the game remains tied, there will be two five-minute sudden-death sessions. No real close calls in the last moments of regulation -- the most drama we had was a Clarence cross that was reeled in by Ball.

6:41 p.m. Overtime has started. There haven't been too many dramatic moments in the game -- perhaps because the teams know each other so well from their ECIC I battles. The marking has been quite good, with defenders disrupting any offensive chances -- they've gotten in the way of some often-fancy footwork by offensive players, stepped up to cut off passes or by made nice tackles.

6:46 p.m. We've had some good chances to start OT. North freshman Alexis Koral unleashed a nice, long shot from the left side that was reeled in by Clarence senior goalie Lisa Johnson, whose momentum took her bumping up against the near post after the catch with 7:10 left. North goalie Ball came across to track down a cross in front of the on-rushing Nicole Lauricella, who has been in the middle of some of the Red Devils' best opportunities. 

6:52 p.m. That's the end of the first 10-minute overtime session. We'll have a two-minute break. The play has gotten a bit more physical -- some good, tough soccer. Putzig was quite active toward the end of the session, sending some long balls across and into the box. One of them was similar to the play on which North scored, with Kroes running onto the ball, but Clarence's Johnson came up and kicked it away.

7 p.m. At the time the boys game was schedule to start, we've got about 4:30 left in the second overtime session. Johnson just made a very nice playwith about 5:15 left, stepping up to get to a bouncing ball at the right side of the goal -- just before Lauricella, bearing in on her, was able to get a foot on it.

7:04 p.m. Off of a throw-in with about 1:20 left, Clarence junior Alexa Krebs has a shot from the top of the box but it's lofted over the crossbar.

7:05 p.m. That's the end of the second 10-minute overtime. On to sudden death -- two five-minute periods, if necessary. Best chants of the night have come from the Clarence side. Many members of the North boys team have shown up to support their team, definitely a quality move; but one of their outbursts was answered with a "Fi-ve, O-ne!" chant from some Clarence fans. Clarence beat North, 5-1, in the sectional semifinals. Also, some of the North guys have painted their chests, another quality move that should definitely be commended. But that only led to some Clarence female fans to chant, "Put your shirts on!"

7:08 p.m. We're underway with sudden-death -- the first of potentially two five-minute sudden-death overtimes.

7:10 p.m. About halfway through the first session, Clarence's Krebs had a shot from the far left wing saved by Ball.

7:13 p.m. End of the first sudden-death overtime.

7:15 p.m. We've started the second sudden-death overtime. A pretty great crowd on hand as the fans for the boys game have arrived. Probably 600-750 people here.

7:18 p.m. North started the session by forcing two corner kicks, but both were cleared away fairly easily.

7:20 p.m. That's it. Pretty great, competitive game. And now it will be decided by a penalty kicks.

7:28 p.m. We have a FINAL: Clarence wins the shootout, 5-3. Clarence and Williamsville North are declared co-champions, with Clarence advancing to the state playoffs. Time to go get quotes.

7:57 p.m. After a postgame ceremony and coaches' talks, we're back in the press box, standing now in the back of the shed of a press box with our laptop on a desk. We've got Lockport local cable. Hey, I've got power and a place to type, so I'm good.

It's one down, one to go for Clarence. The Red Devil soccer program is trying to join East Aurora, Holland and Maple Grove by sweeping their classification's boys and girls soccer titles. Pretty amazing feat   

7:58 p.m. The boys final has kicked off.

8:06 p.m. The Clarence boys have taken a 1-0 lead with 31:21 left in the first half. After two close calls off of a free kick by the Red Devils, Alex Stephan gathered a clear near the 18-yard line on the right side, took a couple of quick steps in and let loose a missle of a left-footed shot to the near top corner that was knuckling as it soared over diving Lockport goalie Christopher Paradise.

8:07 p.m. Clarence comes right back into the Lockport end off of the kickoff and David D'Amico fires a low shot wide to the right.

8:15 p.m. Clarence now has a 2-0 lead with 23:14 left in the first half. Ben Scalzi neatly collected a ball at the middle of the 18, turned and blasted a right-footer to an unstoppable spot: it seared along the turf and caromed in off the left goal post. An awesome play.

8:21 p.m. Clarence hasn't had to show much on defense, but goalie Nate Konitzer just made two standout saves, one off a hard, low James May shot off a free kick, then he went up in the air big-time to snatch a ball away from trouble.

8:28 p.m. Scalzi was just sent speeding up the left side and got his tough-angled shot on net, but Paradise made the save with 11:30 left in the first half.

8:31 p.m. Paradise makes a save of a header off a corner kick -- the second of two straight Clarence corners.

8:33 p.m. With a little over seven minutes left in the half, Lockport junior scorer Matt McCoy goes after a loose ball in the box and goes hard into Konitzer, drawing a free kick for Clarence.

8:38 p.m. Paradise just made a nice stop of a nice play by Clarence with about two minutes to play before the half. Scalzi sent Tyler Hamill sprinting up the right side, but Paradise stepped out to cut down the angle and blocked the ball away.

8:40 p.m. It's halftime and Clarence leads the AA boys final, 2-0. This is the first time I've seen Clarence and they are living up to the hype -- they are fast, skilled and tough. Being on turf seems to be a major asset for the Red Devils, whose rushes upfield are like basketball fast breaks. I've got get my story together so the updates may be a bit slower the rest of the evening.

8:51 p.m. The second half is underway.

8:52 p.m. And here comes Clarence again. Hamill just split two defenders and got off a left-footed poke of a shot that went wide.

8:54 p.m. Kontizer comes off his line and goes airborne to grab a Lockport cross off a free kick with about 37 minutes left to play.

8:57 p.m. With 34 minutes to play, Paradise neatly stops a shot from the right side that was set up on a nifty free kick by Clarence in which a player ran over the ball and then received it on a run up the right wing.

9:01 p.m. With 29:55 left, Clarence nearly scored again by Hamill's shot in close sailed over the crossbar. The Red Devils seem on the verge of another goal.

9:03 p.m. Hamill just tried again with about 29 minutes to play, hovering and pestering a defender as he chased a ball into the Lockport end. Hamill somehow managed a foot on the ball but it rolled a few feet wide right. After the play, Hamill went down to the turf and Lockport's Jon Greig -- the defender who was trying to shield him off -- offered Hamill a hand to pick him up from the turf. Excellent sportsmanship in what has been a bruising, physical, entertaining game.

9:10 p.m. Clarence now has a 3-0 lead with 20:57 left to play. This was one of those fast breaks I was talking about. Derek Maier, a sophomore who came off the bench, went sprinting to midfield onto a ball down the left wing. He spotted Hamill doing his own dash on the other side of midfield and sent a pretty ball across and ahead for Hamill to burst after. Paradise came off his line, but Hamill got to the ball first -- near the 18 -- and put a perfect touch on a perfect pass and the ball went rolling to the open net.

9:31 p.m. This is your two-minute warning. The Clarence fans jammed into the bleachers are singing the goodbye song -- for the second time tonight.

9:32 p.m. Paradise made a great diving stop to his right on a hard, low shot by Hamill.

9:33 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Clarence 3, Lockport 0. The Red Devils sweep Class AA.

---Keith McShea

Who will win soccer doubleheaders?

Section VI boys soccer chairman Art Jaspe and Section VI girls soccer chairman Chris Durr collaborated to come up with a unique format to this year's sectional finals: there would be three days of boys-girls doubleheaders at Amherst High for Class AA, A and B.

The events have worked out ideally, especially for three traditional soccer powers. Clarence, Williamsville East and East Aurora had both of their soccer teams advance to their respective finals, making the doubleheader doubly good for their fans.

"Can you imagine if the finals were in two different places, and fans had to choose?" said Durr, who is also the coach of the Williamsville East girls. "It works out for the teams -- because they're often the biggest supporters of the other -- as well as teachers, ADs, administrators and the families."

The Class C and D finals also feature one school with two teams participating -- Holland's boys and girls will compete for the C titles while Maple Grove's teams are both in the D finals. Fans from each school will be able to attend both games -- the C and D girls finals are at Pioneer this evening while the boys games are Saturday afternoon at Southwestern.

The Class B doubleheader is today at Amherst. The Class A girls (7 p.m) and boys (9 p.m.) have a late start on Saturday -- that's because the soccer games follow the field hockey championship tripleheader in the afternoon. The Class AA doubleheader is Monday.

So who's going to win?

As for the Monsignor Martin Association, yet another program is doubly present in the championships as Nichols is playing for championships in both boys and girls. There is a doubleheader of girls games before the boys final for a three-game lineup Sunday at Canisius' Clinton Road complex in West Seneca.

Check out the tournament schedules and results, make your votes and do your campaigning below in the comments section.

If you go out to a game, let us know what you thought of the action.

---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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