With star senior Trey Buscaglia on the sidelines for the Section VI Class A-1 championship, the Williamsville East High School boys soccer team needed more out of everyone else and the most out of leading-scorer Ben Woolingham.
As coach Jeff Librock put it, “Ben did what Ben does.”
Woolingham scored twice – including the golden goal in double-overtime – and the Flames won the sectional championship with an exciting 2-1 win over rival Hamburg on Thursday at Tonawanda High School’s Clinton H. Small Stadium.
“We miss having Trey out there,” Woolingham said. “I think that gave us more heart than usual. We’re playing for him, every win from now on is for him.”
Woolingham leads the team in goals and his 27th was a golden goal that gave the program its first sectional crown since 2014. It came with 11:27 left in the second overtime session.
“I got a cross from Ishaan Kashyap,” Wollingham described, “flicked it over the defender. Bad first shot, hit the goalie and then followed it up with lefty, bar down. It was exciting. It was amazing. Everyone just ran towards for our fans; we got tons of hugs from the fans. It was great.”
Buscaglia, the reigning ECIC II Player of the Year, is out with an illness. He has 22 goals and a team-best nine assists for the Flames. Kashyap leads the team with 23 assists, including the one that set up the sectional winner.
“It’s tough without him,” Librock said. “We talk about the people who are waiting in the wings, this is their chance. It kind of became the Ishaan and Ben show but they feed off of each other very nicely.”
Meanwhile, Hamburg (15-3) dropped the sectional championship game for a third time in five years. The Bulldogs and Flames split the ECIC II matches – the road team winning each – and shared the division title. But the Flames got the golden goal that denied Hamburg its first sectional title since 1995.
“It stings,” Bulldogs coach Tony Schiappa said. “We got another red (runner-up) patch. It’s frustrating but these kids, I’m so proud of their resiliency.”
Seth Heeter scored Hamburg’s goal, his fifth of the season. Two of those goals came against Will East and he also assisted on Andrew Lauria’s goal in Hamburg’s early-season win at East.
But in the end, the Flames were the favorites to win the division and section coming into the season and in the end, even without the player responsible for those lofty expectations, they showed why they had such respect.
“Will East is the No. 2 ranked team in Western New York for a reason,” Schiappa said. “We started to chase the game due to their athleticism winning those 50/50 balls. That being said, we were committing undisciplined fouls, fouls lead to set pieces, set pieces lead to them setting the tempo on their offensive half and the result is eventually they break through.”
The Flames will play Lewiston-Porter at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday for the overall Class A championship, back at Clint Small Stadium. The Lancers won the Class A-2 crown with a 3-0 win over Williamsville South.
“We have a lot of confidence,” Woolingham said. “It’s going to be a good game against Lew-Port, but we’re going to prepare and do our best.”
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