This is why coaches always say play to the whistle.
Senior Rachel Senek netted what turned out to be the game-winner with 0.5 seconds remaining in the first half as No.5 Wilson defeated No.1-seed Tonawanda, 4-1, in their Section VI Class B-2 semifinal game that was played at Williamsville North High School on Saturday.
The victory lifts the Lakewomen into the Class B-2 title game Oct.27 where they will face No.2 Fredonia in a game that will also be played at Will-North. Fredonia punched its ticket to the title game with a 2-1 victory over No.6 Southwestern.
“I really don’t know,” Rachel Senek said when she was asked about how the play unfolded. “I remember when Kayla (Neumann) headed the ball it was like 11 seconds left.”
The defending Section VI Class B champions, Wilson made it all the way to the NYSPHSAA Class B state championship game where they faced Section II Schalmont. But after playing a draining 110 minute state semifinal game the day before the Lakewomen simply didn’t have enough left in the tank and fell to Schalmont by a 2-0 score.
Though the 2016 edition of the Lakewomen obviously has the same end goal of winning states in mind, they aren’t obsessed with matching last year’s success. They are simply trying to play their best each day.
“We’re just trying to take it game by game and try to get back (to states),” Senek said.
The ECIC IV champion Lady Warriors presented the Lakewomen with one of its biggest hurdles to clear as this game was a rematch of last year’s Class B title game, with Tonawanda being the B-1 champion last year.
While last year’s clash was a 2-1 nail-biter in favor of Wilson,on afternoon though it was all Lakewomen as they used their mix of skill and physical strength to control the midfield and keep constant pressure on Tonawanda goalie Haley Schoelerman.
Wilson took the 1-0 lead on a goal by senior Jennifer Darlak that came 8:47 into the game. But it didn’t take the Lady Warriors long to respond as junior Hope Balling set up freshman Zoe Oliver just two minutes later.
The closing seconds of the first half were quickly ticking away as the Lakewomen hurried to get off a a corner kick to the left of Schoelerman, which lead to a furious scrum in front of the Tonawanda net. The kick came in and Kayla Neumann headed the ball at the Warriors net.
It appeared that Tonawanda was going to be able hold the Lakewomen off and escape with a 1-1 tie at halftime, but Senek found enough space to direct the ball into the net. The goal proved to be too emotionally draining for the Warriors to come back from.
“In the last five seconds,” Kayla Neumann said. “That was a good goal.”
Any hope Tonawanda had to regain the momentum came apart after Neumann scored the first of her two second half goals 1:52 into the half.
With plenty of young, talented players the Warriors will no doubt continue to be a force in Class B, but with senior co-captain Sydney Kowsky unable to play the team’s youth and varsity inexperience was revealed. Instead of playing with desperation there seemed to be more panic in the Warriors game, which led to a lack of communication, turnovers and too many breakdowns.
“Yeah it definitely was not our day,” Tonawanda head coach Angela Tolsma said. “We weren’t talking, I think a lot of it was nerves. Maybe a little bit of inexperience. (You’re) a little bit nervous when you’re playing the team that knocked you out last year. They’re a very reputable program with a lot of experience. We lost some of that composure and some of that poise that we usually have. Soccer is one of those games where you can’t all a time out and fix it.”
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