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Published: November 13, 2009 11:36 pm     

BOYS SOCCER: Figler shines but GI falls in FWR

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

SPENCERPORT Jeremy Figler could only do so much.

The Grand Island senior and Division I-caliber goalkeeper leapt, dove, crawled and even suffered through a bloody nose on his way to 11 saves Friday. But in the end it wasn't nearly enough to slow down the state's top-ranked team in Class A, Pittsford-Mendon.

The Vikings of Section V controlled play throughout on their way to a commanding 3-0 victory in the Far West Regional round of the state playoffs Friday at Spencerport's Ranger Stadium. GI, which earned its first sectional title since 2003 by beating Williamsville South last weekend, finishes the season 16-2-3.

"He was phenomenal," GI coach Pete Kuehne said of Figler, who recorded a school record 15 shutouts this fall. "It could've easily been a lot more damage if it wasn't for him. Unfortunately, we couldn't rally around his enthusiasm and effort tonight."

Or perhaps our area's Vikings ran into a buzzsaw.

About 10 minutes into the contest, Mendon began to put pressure on GI. At the 15-minute mark of the first half, Rory Foster placed a pretty corner in front that Andrew Smith unsuccessfully attempted to put in via a bicycle kick. Still, the ball remained loose in front until Andrew Otiso buried it to give Mendon a 1-0 lead.

The score would stay that way until the second half as Figler continued to shine. Then about 16 minutes into the second, Josh Galindez-Webb put one home after Figler unsuccessfully dove after a bouncing ball in front. Just over a minute later, Foster rounded out the scoring when he connected on a header.

"We knew coming in that if they got chances, they were going to bury them," Figler said. "And even if you shut them down in one area of their game, they beat with another. They're the number one team in the state for a reason."

Figler's counterpart, Josh Klein, needed to stop just five GI shots to earn his 12th shutout of the season. Grand Island's best scoring opportunities probably came on a pair of Joe Fischer corner kicks. Bobby Ross also had a run at a ball midway through the second half, but Klein scooped it up before he could get to it.

"They took us out of our game," Kuehne said. "They did things to us that we usually do to the other team. We couldn't get anything going. It just wasn't our night."

Figler added, "Things didn't go our way. Still, it was a hell of a run for this team. I'm proud of everyone on this team."

GI, which had 14 seniors on its roster, won its first Niagara Frontier League championship this fall since taking three straight from 1984-86.