KENMORE — There is no such thing as a meaningless or boring Kenmore
West-Grand Island girls soccer game.
Jenna Raepple collected three points as Grand Island edged the Blue Devils 3-2 in Niagara Frontier League action Wednesday afternoon at the Kenmore West Athletic Complex.
This is the second go-around this season between the two clubs, with Grand Island scoring a 2-1 victory at their field last month. This win moves the Vikings one step closer to the league title.
A match up of two of the top-10 ranked large schools in Western New York, the No.1 Vikings (8-0-1 in NFL, 10-0-1) and No. 5 Blue Devils (8-2 in NFL, 10-2 overall), showed why they are two of the premier programs in the region.
“We knew it was going to be a physical game coming in because both teams wanted it just as much,” said Vikings coach Dave Bowman. “My girls wanted to win. They wanted to knock us off. You know it’s going to be a good game when they come in 10-1 and we come in 9-0-1.”
Grand Island took the 1-0 lead just under nine minutes into the game when senior Jeannie Taylor took a pass from Raepple and lofted the ball over the reach of a leaping Blue Devil keeper Taylor Smith.
Not long after that first goal the Blue Devils responded with a stretch of a strong offensive attack as they took advantage of some communication break downs between the Viking mid fielders and defenders.
Though they repeatedly tested Viking goalie Stephanie Senn, she held strong and didn’t allow the ball to pass during that flurry of chances.
“Steph played great. The saves she made kept us in this game and she did well,” Raepple said.
Twenty minutes after Jeannine Taylor scored on the feed from Raepple she returned the favor, as she dished the ball to Raepple who gave Grand Island a 2-0 lead they would take into half time.
The Blue Devils held true to their reputation this season of being a strong second half team as they maintained pressure on Senn and with 26:05 left in the game, Lexi Panepinto cut the deficit in half when she got the Blue Devils on the board.
Amanda Cinelli, who scored what turned out to be the game-winner, extended the Viking lead to 3-1 with 5:26 left to play. But that wasn’t the last of the scoring.
Lexi Panepinto, with less than a minute to play, took control of the ball near the Vikings net to Senn’s right. She danced around, fought through several Viking defenders, pushed toward the net and set up Maddy Barker who scored with 15 seconds left in the game.
“They’ve got a heck of a lot of talent over there,” Bowman said. “The two Panepinto sisters are awesome. We gave them way too much space in the first half and we knew they were going to eventually make us pay and Lexi did. Her hard work paid off for them a couple times.”
Evenly matched and hard fought, this game lived up to its billing as the marquee match up in girls soccer, Ken West coach Jen Gilham said.
“Grand Island is a great rival,” Gilham said. “It’s a great team and we respect them and I think we always give them a good game as they always give us a good game. But now it’s sectionals. We’re focusing on seeding points. We’re focusing on preparing for sectionals. So I would take this game of making mistakes here, and learning from them, to prepare for sectionals.”