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November 13, 2010

HS SOCCER: Grand Island falls short at regionals

By Ryan Nagelhout Niagara Gazette

MEDINA — As the final horn sounded a cardboard Viking ship took a celebratory trip around the bleachers, but Grand Island’s ship had already sunk.

The Grand Island girls soccer team lost the Class A Far West Regional final against the Pittsford-Mendon Vikings 3-0 at Genesee Community College on Saturday night. The Vikings (19-1-1) took its first loss of the season after giving up an early goal, and the Section V Vikings (16-4) shut down Jenna Raepple and a potent Grand Island offense.

“We definitely came out flat,” Raepple said. “We didn’t play our game today which hurt us big time.”

Mendon got off to a quick start when forward Alyssa Iacona got free inside the 18 and fired a shot that found the corner of the net just four minutes into the match. It was the only goal Mendon would need, but the Section V squad continued to pressure Grand Island’s back end for the full 80 minutes and limited its chances to counter-attack.

“They played an awesome game,” Grand Island coach Dave Bowman said. “I give them credit. They took it away from us because of how aggressive they were.”

Grand Island struggled to find space up top, and its best chance to score came with 13 minutes left in the first half. Brooke DeMarco found a loose ball inside the penalty area but put a shot right on Mendon keeper Kim Forgue. It was one of just three saves the senior keeper made on the night, as the Mendon defense held firm in front of her.

“They pressured us high the whole game,” Bowman said. “We weren’t able to get any clean looks and get the balls up top.”

While Grand Island struggled, Mendon pushed for a second goal and they were rewarded when Sarah Hansen headed a Sydney Ciufo corner kick in with six minutes left in the first half.

Despite the 2-0 deficit at the break, Grand Island felt they still had a chance to make a game of it.

“We thought we were going to come out harder,” Raepple said, “but once they got that third goal there’s really not much you can do.”

It was Mendon’s leading scorer who put the game out of reach, as Abby Williams finished a diving cross from Laura Herman from a few feet out to cap the game’s scoring. A 3-0 deficit midway through the second half was too much for Grand Island to overcome despite a number of big saves from goaltender Stephanie Senn to keep it close.

With hopes of an undefeated season gone, Bowman and his team still feel they have plenty to be proud of this season.

“I’m happy,” Bowman said. “They showed up every game, we met goals, we checked them off along the way.

“It would have been nice to go further but we gave it everything we had and got beat by a good team.”

For seniors like Raepple, Saturday’s loss means the end of an impressive season with a tight knit team.

“It’s definitely hard that it’s over,” Raepple said. “I’ve been playing with some of these girls since I’ve been eight or nine.

“We definitely had a good run.”