WNY Athletics

Lancaster Girls Soccer Picks Up Huge Win At Rival Clarence

Girls soccer followers were just starting to take notice of the Lancaster Lady Legends. Folks are really going to start paying attention now.

Lancaster made a big-time statement on Tuesday evening, riding a clutch penalty kick by senior Caitlin VonVreckin and spectacular goalkeeping by eighth-grader Shea Vanderbosch to a huge 1-0 win over four-time defending ECIC I champion Clarence on the Red Devils’ turf field.

“It’s amazing,” VonVreckin said. “I couldn’t imagine this feeling. It’s everything our team was working towards. I think our team has worked so hard, we put our heart into this game and I’m very proud of everyone.”

Just eight days ago, Lancaster sat at 2-3-1 and seemed destined to be an also-ran in the division. But things have quickly changed. After a blowout win over West Seneca West, the Legends showed they’re for real with a big win over Williamsville North. But Clarence is a whole different animal.

A year ago, the Red Devils outscored Lancaster 9-0 in two ECIC I games in route to a dominant division championship. The goal for the Legends this year was to keep it competitive. They did that and then seized their moment – handing Clarence its first ECIC I loss since 2013.

“We knew it was going to be intense,” Lancaster coach Chris Cownie said. “We were hoping it was going to be competitive. Our thing is we want all of our tough games to be close. We kind of scraped by. We got a call late that went our way. But we were 0-0 with the top-ranked team, that says a lot too. Our intensity in these big games, how well we’ve been working, it’s a testament to what we’re doing is working. Sometimes we catch breaks.

After an even first half, the Red Devils controlled much of the action but couldn’t get one past the middle-school sensation Vanderbosch. The game was scoreless in the 75th minute when Clarence was called for an intentional handball, giving VonVreckin the penalty kick opportunity. It was also a call that wasn’t received fondly by the home bench.

“Horrible call,” Clarence coach Dave Stephan said. “Inadvertent handball. He said her hands were up here, I have it on film and I think I’m going to see that her hands were (down) here but that’s how it goes. Sometimes you get the calls and sometimes you don’t.

“We outplayed them 70-30 in the second half. We don’t finish and they get a PK, it’s part of the stinger of the game. It’s a good lesson for the girls. The best team doesn’t always come away with the win. I still think we’re the best team in the league, but it happens.”

The favorable call gave the Legends a penalty kick and the Legends turned to VonVreckin, the team’s co-leader in goals (4) and co-leader in points (16). She made no mistake, beating Clarence goalkeeper Grace Fabian and burying the shot into the upper right-corner of the net.

“All I knew it that it had to go in and I did it,” she said. “I always have a strategy to pick a side and not show the goalie which side.”

VonVreckin may have had the Play of the Game but the star was unquestionably Vanderbosch. She made 14 saves, many of them tough ones, to pick up her third straight shutout and had both sides raving.

“Oh, she was outstanding,” Stephan said. “Not bad for an eighth-grader. Not bad at all.”

“Without our goalie, we wouldn’t be in this position,” Cownie said. “Without her, it would’ve been a different outcome, no question about that.”

Clarence (8-2, 6-1) remains atop the division, a half-game ahead of Williamsville North.  The Legends (5-3-1, 4-2 ECIC I) are in third place. But for a team with a tie against fourth-place Orchard Park and a loss to fifth-place Frontier, the Legends have come a long way in a short amount of time.

“It feels really good,” Vanderbosch said. “They were No. 1 in the league and we’re really weren’t up there that far. We kept it close with them and then got the win. It says a lot about how well we’re playing lately.”

The game was originally scheduled to be played on Monday afternoon at Lancaster High School but it was moved to Clarence under the lights because of recent heat wave. The teams meet again on Monday again at Clarence.

“I’m not sure if we’ll take them on grass or turf yet, I’ll see how I feel,” Stephan said with a laugh. “We played well on the turf. I thought we played extremely well. Maybe our best game of the year. I’m pleased with the way we played. We should’ve had the win, but it doesn’t always happen.”

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