WNY Athletics

Lackawanna, East Aurora take home sectional titles

The folks at Sweet Home High School Wednesday night learned an important life lesson.

It’s not over until it’s over.

The Grand Island Vikings looked like they were going to take home a third-straight sectional championship when John Griffin gave his team the one-goal lead as he scored with 29.6 seconds left in regulation.

But that was enough time for the East Aurora Blue Devils to equalize the game after a foul call as Pat Phillips knocked in a 33-yard free kick from Jack Bean with 12.7 seconds left.

According to his teammates, it was no surprise that he was there to make the play.

“His back was to the net and he somehow managed to get a flick on it,” East Aurora goal keeper Dan Phillips said of Pat. “He’s just a fighter and puts his body on the line.”

Unfortunately, the game’s hero fell a few minutes later as he hurt his collarbone.

“He turns into a different player in the playoffs,” Bryce Schiltz said.

The goal fittingly sent the back and forth affair to overtime where Bean would drape one into the net with 49.5 seconds left in the first overtime to give East Aurora the 4-3 win in the Section VI Class A Boys Soccer Championship game.

It was one of the craziest games Blue Devil head coach Kevin Beale has been a part of.

“I’ve never had a finish like that in any kind of game,” Beale said. “To be dead on the floor with 30 seconds left and still go on and win. It was just emotion to finish this game out.”

Dan Phillips was in disbelief as the last Grand Island goal was scored but picked himself up and rallied his team to make another push.

“It’s just a mix of emotions,” Phillips said. “With 30 seconds left it’s tough to keep going. It was one of the unluckiest goals. I had to sit down for 10 seconds because I thought my senior year was over. But I had to pick up my defenders.”

The goalkeeper had only let in one goal all year heading into Wednesday night’s game and it looked to continue as he made big save after big save in the first half holding the Vikings scoreless.

However in the second half, Grand Island quickly found its groove as David Bilek headed in a cross from Stephen Sweeney in the 42′ to tie the game.

Senior Bryce Schiltz came right back to get his second goal of the game in the next minute.

But Bilek went ahead and matched Schiltz in the 55′ to tie the game back up.

Bilek is an exchange student from the Czech Republic and become the Vikings’ scoring leader this season.

It was the biggest test either team had faced all season.

Grand Island head coach Frank Butcher was extremely proud of the fight his team showed.

“The guys could’ve folded going down early, but we were resilient and we knew one would fall in,” Butcher said. “We came out hard in the second half…we thought we had it in hand and it just didn’t go our way today.”

Despite letting in four goals, Butcher was impressed with his senior goalkeeper Steven Pufpaff who made several big saves and kept the Vikings in games throughout the season.

“He kept us in the game,” Butcher said. “Both goalies played well today. It could’ve been a lot of goals either way.”

The Blue Devils picked up their sixth sectional title since 2008. It was their second one in Class A in that time span.

Schiltz hadn’t completely processed the game a few minutes after receiving the championship plaque.

“I still don’t know what the heck happened,” Schiltz said. “That game was crazy. To come up from the B’s and take down a team like Grand Island shows that our record isn’t just something for show.”


The preceding sectional title game was far less dramatic, but still extremely meaningful for the victors.

The Lackawanna community has long had a strong soccer culture, but after Wednesday night they will now compete in a state tournament for the first time in school history.

They made history in convincing fashion with a 4-1 win over the Riverside Frontiersmen to win their first Section VI Class B Championship in 40 years.

Lackawanna head coach Abdulsalam Noman was extremely proud of what his team accomplished.

“We are the number one team in western New York,” Noman said. “I’m very proud of what the boys did. This is an opportunity for them to showcase the Lackawanna City Schools.”

After taking down International Prep last week in the Class B1 title game, the Lackawanna Steelers finally had a shot to take home the overall Sectional VI Class B championship.

I-Prep has long been a roadblock that has prevented the Steelers from reaching the overall Class B final for the past three years.

“We’ve been stressing to these guys the whole year the opportunity we have,” assistant coach Waheb Noman said. “It showed the way we played tonight just bashing in goals.”

The Steelers didn’t waste any time as Abdallah Omar put in a cross in the 5′.

Lackawanna took advantage of their second corner when Ali Alquadi hit a corner kick that Hamiou Blade knocked off his right shoulder into the net.

“I’m happy that we got out to a quick lead,” junior Jabreel Almontaser said.

Almontaser fired in two free kicks from 18 and 30 yards out to give Lackawanna the four-goal lead.

The Frontiersmen scored in the final minute as Poe La Khee knock one in off the corner.

Both teams will head to Spencerport High School to take on the respective Section V Champions in the Far West Regionals this weekend.

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