The Kenmore/Grand Island girls hockey team was a little out of the sync to start the game Thursday night.
But lucky for them they had Olivia Smith.
Thanks to a last minute goal by the senior forward, No. 4 Kenmore/Grand Island defeated No. 5 West Seneca/Hamburg/Eden 2-1 in the Section VI girls hockey quarterfinals.
With 2:08 left in the third period, Smith was sent to the box for interference to give West Seneca/ Hamburg/Eden the power play. Ken/GI successfully killed the penalty off and Smith came out the box to score the game-winning goal with 22.5 seconds left in regulation.
“As soon as I got back on the ice I knew I had to make it up”, Smith said.
“We’ve been lucky to have her for six years”, Kenmore/Grand Island assistant coach Matt Miller said. “For her to pick up the team and score both goals today is fitting.”
Early into the game Rosie Boyko went to the box for tripping to give WS/H/E the power play. WS/H/E took advantage as Oliva Luthringer scored to give her team the early lead.
Kenmore/Grand Island at that point had trouble getting anything going, passes were being missed and the players we not in sync with one another. It began to frustrate Ken/GI.
“Our motto all week is try to settle down”, Miller said. “We wanted to settle them down and get pucks to the net.”
In the second, Ken/GI began to get more chances on net but couldn’t convert them. Smith finally got her team on the board, as she skated down along the boards and right in front of the WS/H/E net to tie the game.
“If we didn’t work as a team it wasn’t going to happen”, Smith said. “We all had to communicate and be positive about the game.”
West Seneca/Hamburg/Eden head coach Brian Hillery was proud of his team’s effort after the game.
“Our effort was outstanding”, Hillery said. “I’m extremely proud of our girls, they gave it their all from the first puck drop to the final horn.”
After years of following great leadership from those like Jillian Battista (’14), Bri and Kaeli Mathias (’14), Ana Orzechowski (’15), Lauren Pray (’15), Emily King (’16) and Grace Simmons (’16), it is now time for Smith and classmate Hannah Gallivan to take on the role.
“Olivia has been a leader since middle school based on the way she plays. But she’s starting to be more vocal”, Miller said. “Her and Gallivan are the voice of the locker room.”
Gallivan assisted on both of Smith’s goals.
“Hannah and I work together to build team chemistry, everything else goes from there”, Smith said.
For Kenmore/Grand Island the win earns them a spot in the Section VI girls hockey semifinal against unbeaten Williamsville on Monday at 4 p.m. at the Northtown Center.
“Williamsville has been playing great all year”, Miller said. “We need to shut down their big players, so executing on defense will be a big part.”