After the third game of the season, Clarence High School boys soccer coach Mike Silverstein made a pretty significant lineup change. Senior Spencer Catalano took over as the team’s starting goalkeeper and Kenny Suen, the starter since the beginning of last season, was moved to outside midfielder.
Man did that move pay off big-time on Tuesday night.
Suen scored with 5:52 left in the first sudden death overtime and the Red Devils posted a 1-0 win over fourth-seeded Williamsville North in a Class AA Section VI semifinal at Clinton H. Small Stadium in Tonawanda.
“Go to the net and crash hard, that’s what Kenny does,” Silverstein said, “just like if he’s going to the line to win a ball as a keeper. He’s tenacious and vicious and fast.”
On a night that saw Clarence get opportunity after opportunity, it was the old goalie that finally converted. It was his third goal of the year.
I saw the ball going over the defender’s head and I just came running in,” said Suen, who removed his jersey and sprinted towards the Clarence student section after the goal. “I was so excited. I don’t know what happened after that. I just started running.”
The back end remained in good hands as well. Catalano stopped all five shots he faced for his 10th shutout of the year.
“We knew we have another really goalie in Spence, too,” Silverstein said. ” Kenny’s got really good pace, really good speed and can create opportunities on the outside.”
Clarence (16-2) will face rival Lancaster at 7:30 p.m. Saturday back at Clint Small Stadium. The Red Devils will be gunning for their third straight sectional championship and eighth in 10 years.
But, while, the Red Devils had to work overtime for their victory, the Legends were in cruise control all day long. Third-seeded Lancaster rolled to a surprisingly lopsided 9-0 win over No. 2-seed Frontier in Tuesday’s first semifinal.
“Listen, last time we played Lancaster they outplayed us the whole second half,” Silverstein said. “We were able to escape with a 2-0 win but they played really well and we’re going to have our hands full with them.”
Senior Owen Adamec had a huge day for Lancaster, collecting four goals and two assists. Jake Klimczak added two goals and Riley Quinn, Josh Marinaccio and David Lattimore also scored for the Legends (12-5-1).
“I told the boys there’s been a noticeable difference in our team the last three weeks,” Lancaster coach Chris Palmer said. “We’ve really stepped up, we’ve really stepped up our training and it really showed up on the pitch today.”
The Falcons won 3-0 in Lancaster earlier in the season and the team’s tied 3-3 in Hamburg a few weeks later. But in this one, Lancaster was up 3-0 at halftime and scored three more in the first five minutes of the second half.
“Frontier was a pretty hard challenge the first time we played them so I was expecting a close game,” Adamec said. “I think we’ve found our groove, definitely.”
The Falcons were playing without leading scorer Jonathan Czajka (broken leg). Frontier’s season ends at 13-4-1.
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