The starting goalkeeper getting injured in the final regular season game might spell doom for most teams, especially when it’s one of the better goalkeepers in all of Section VI.
However, the West Seneca West Indians Girls Soccer team shined in their first playoff game on Tuesday.
Freshman goalkeeper Jordan Brown was superb after stepping in for the injured junior Maya Kamberaj.
In her second career varsity start, Brown made six saves, including one on a Sweet Home penalty kick with 21 minutes left in the first half, which propelled the Indians to a 3-0 win over the Panthers in the Section VI Class A1 pre-quarterfinals.
“The PK was massive because it was a bit of a ticky-tack call and we could’ve fallen in a hole,” West Seneca West coach Justin DiLoro said. “But Jordan makes the save, we clear it out and we just kept things kind of level. That’s one of those moments in a sectional game where everything can flip.”
The Indians advance to the Class A1 quarterfinals where they’ll face the top-seeded Hamburg Bulldogs at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.
“In a PK you either read them or it’s a guess,” Brown said. “I read her. It’s all instinct for me. It was really exciting to be called up to varsity my freshman year because I really love the girls on the team. To be a part of that bond is amazing.”
Brown’s big stop came just over 10 minutes after West had gotten on the board. Alexsa Morehouse’s shot took a weird bounce off the ground and went into the net.
The Indians took the 1-0 lead into the half as Sweet Home had trouble getting any kind offense going.
West’s leading goal-scorer junior Sophia Bernardoni earned her seventh tally of the season sending in a boot from about 35 yards away with 30:16 left in the game.
Junior Casey Gehen added the Indians’ final goal a few minutes later on a breakaway.
The loss ends the Panthers’ 2019 campaign, which saw the team earn its first league win in three years. Sweet Home has a lot to look forward to as much of its core were sophomores this year.
“Overall we had a successful season,” Sweet Home assistant coach Seth Anderson said. “Considering our records of the past the girls did a really nice job. Our girls are going to have to work hard over the offseason if they want to make the next jump.”
No matter what happens against Hamburg, the Indians feel this win is something they can hang their hats on this offseason.
“It’s a great feeling right now for the girls because they worked so hard all year and dug deep,” DiLoro said. “This is the fruition of it. We still want to be moving and peaking as the playoffs go on.”
DiLoro says that Kamberaj, who suffered an injury in last Thursday’s rivalry game against West Seneca East will be re-evaluated Wednesday.
Either way, DiLoro feels very strongly about his goalkeeping situation this week and going forward.
“We have a really great thing going because now we don’t have to rush Maya back,” DiLoro said. “For the next four years I have goalkeepers. That makes life infinitely easier for me because they’re so good in net and so strong in communication and keeping the game flowing.”
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