It was a busy night in Class AA boys soccer Tuesday night as four teams battled in the semi-finals held at Sweet Home. It was a chilly evening that saw plenty of goals in the early contest and some hard hitting in the second.
Lancaster (3) vs Kenmore West (7)
In the first game senior forward Tyler Curry helped the Lancaster Legends (3) defeat the seventh seeded Kenmore West Blue Devils 5-0, scoring two goals and picking up two assists. Curry’s first goal came at the 17’ and was the only goal scored in the first half. “We had a chance right before half time, shot went off the keepers hand. Could have been 1-1” Blue Devils coach Todd Marquardt said after the loss.
The Legends quickly went to work in the second half, Curry scored his 2nd goal at the 42’ and Jason Martin followed up in the 43’ to break the game open. Anthony Gallo made 9 saves for Lancaster. “We finally got on the same page, we struggled against Lockport. The guys realized it’s lose or go home, so they didn’t want to get in that situation” Legends coach Chris Palmer said. “Tyler’s our guy, we’re going to go as far as he takes us. We look to him for that leadership role.”
Lancaster lost last season in the sectional finals to Williamsville North and find themselves in the same position this year. They had to wait for the Clarence, OP final to see who they’ll face on Saturday. They split during the regular season with the Quakers and went 0-1-1 against Clarence. “Seeding means nothing, regular season means nothing, it’s a single game elimination” Palmer said. “Our guys worked hard today and we’re playing our best soccer at the right time.”
“I thanked my seniors after, it’s always demoralizing when you lose, no matter the circumstances. Whatever they give you, some two, three years, I just thanked them” Marquardt said. “I had 12 seniors altogether.”
Clarence (1) vs Orchard Park (4)
Sam Sutherlands goal in the 29’ proved to be the difference as the No. 1 seeded Clarence Red Devils hung onto win against Orchard Park in the final Class AA boys game Tuesday. The senior forward kept the pressure up on the Quaker defenders for much of the contest. Sutherland, one of three captains braved the cold temps by playing in only a tee-shirt “I don’t like to wear anything under” he said through a wide smile. Senior captain Cam Law assisted on Sutherlands goal “I heard Sam scream and looked up and he made a nice goal. It was an intense game. We played them twice before so we knew what to expect” he added.
“I liked the way we defended today. Only giving up 5 shots” coach Mike Silvestri said after the game. “The only chance we gave up was when we had a turnover and without that we were perfect.”
Defender Austin Knorz made several key plays to help stymie the OP offense. “Everyone is on the same page. We did a good job of knowing where everyone is, covering the back side” the senior captain said.
“We wanted to give ourselves a chance and going into the 2nd half if we could score that 1 goal we’d put a little pressure on them. Being the underdog we knew we’d face a little adversity so we felt like we had a chance” Coach Josh Daneker said after the loss. “Clarence is a great team, they are the best in the division no doubt.”
Speaking about his goal keeper Mike D’Amato; “I haven’t seen a better game from a goalie in the playoffs ever. He made some great saves, he played great.”
D’Amato made four quality saves in the final 5 minutes of regulation including a direct kick at the 77’. He was credited with 12 saves. “I wanted a better result. I wanted to go further in the playoffs but we had a good season” D’Amato said.
Clarence lost in the semi-finals last year and these seniors are entering unchartered territory when they take on Lancaster Saturday. “We expect to win” Sutherland said.