B U F F A L O   N E W S


Soccer sibling revelry

Oh, brother: great seasons for GI family

News Sports Reporter
Mark Mulville/Buffalo News
Grand Island's soccer family affair includes (front row, from left): Alex Missert, Andrew Missert, Lamar Hogan, Marcellus Hogan, Ryan Clarke, Kiel Clarke, Natalie Fischer, Joe Fischer, Nicole Fischer, Josh Snyder and Carly Snyder. Second row, from left: Russ Certo (JV coach), Ben Certo, J.R. Certo, Steve Doermer Jr., Steve Doermer Sr. (former player), Josh Doermer, Ryan Samland, Justin Samland, Jessica Kuehne, Jude Kuehne (former player), Peter Kuehne (varsity boys coach). Third row, from left: Elizabeth Lorence, Robert Lorence, Cassie Ungaro, Adam Ungaro, Josh Billica, Jared Billica, Erik Billica, and Ray Billica (JV coach). Back row, from left: Chris Benninger, Ryan Benninger, Catie Hilliard, Sara Hilliard, Maria Buyer, and Kevin Buyer.


James P. McCoy/Buffalo News
Dan Schichtel and his sister Lauren both lead the Eden soccer teams in goals.


Many times in sports you'll hear about how teams are one big family.

This year's Grand Island boys soccer team is just that. Actually, it's a family of families.

Go down the roster and you start connecting siblings the way the Vikings string passes together.

Grand Island has eight sets of brothers between its varsity and junior varsity teams. Ryan and Kiel Clarke, and Alex and Andrew Missert are on the varsity. J.R. Certo, Chris Benninger, Marcellus Hogan and Steve Doermer each have a brother on the JV, while Josh Billica has two brothers on JV.

J.R. Certo's father, Russ, is the coach of the JV, which also happens to include a set of identical twins, Ryan and Justin Samland. Russ Certo is a former Grand Island player, one of four second-generation families in the program (along with Doermer, Samland and Billica - Ray Billica is also an assistant coach).

Did we mention the sisters? Senior captain Adam Ungaro, Robert Lorence and Kevin Buyer have sisters that play JV. The girls varsity includes Natalie and Nicole Fischer (their brother plays JV), Sara Hilliard (whose sister plays JV) and standout sophomore defender Jessica Kuehne.

Jessica's mother, Jude, played at Grand Island, while her father, Peter, is the boys varsity coach.

All this brotherhood has helped the Vikings to another standout season. GI is poised to make a run at a second straight sectional championship after winning Class B last year. With this year's expansion from four to five classes, GI is in Class A. Sectional seedings for the boys and girls tournaments will be announced Saturday; the girls tournament begins Monday and the boys start Tuesday.

The Grand Island boys (8-4-3) appear primed for the postseason after recent ties with Niagara Frontier League rivals Kenmore East and Lockport, Class AA powers who have spent the season atop the coaches' large school poll.

Those involved in the sister act on the girls team are cruising along under coach Peter Prozik, in his eighth and final season with the girls (he coached 23 seasons with the boys) before turning the program over to JV coach David Bowman. Prozik's career record is 131-17-12.

Rival Kenmore West gave the Vikings girls a good run last week, taking a 1-0 lead into the second half before Dana Szczepaniak saved a 1-1 tie. The Vikings moved to 12-1-3 with a 2-0 victory over Lew-Port on Monday.