N i a g a r a G a z e t t e

Published: November 13, 2005 01:15 am

Vikings return to states

Grand Island wins in shootout

By Jay Skurski
Niagara Gazette
Rochester, NY —
— If it weren’t for penalty kicks, the Grand Island Vikings and Aquinas Little Irish might still be on the pitch. Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation and two overtime sessions, the Vikings eventually prevailed Saturday afternoon, defeating the Little Irish 3-2 in penalty kicks after 110 minutes of soccer couldn’t determine a winner in the women’s state Far West Regionals. “The girls really wanted this one,” Grand Island coach Dave Bowman said. “Everything was on the line and they came out and played with a point and purpose.” Grand Island (21-1-1) avenged their only loss of the season, which came in October to the Little Irish, who finish at 15-4-3 for the year. Bowman said having a healthy squad led to the different outcome Saturday.

The win was anything but easy. Although the two squads have seen each other once this year, each team spent the first half largely feeling the other out. There were several scoring chances, but both goalkeepers were up to the task, leaving the game scoreless at halftime. Little Irish junior Erica Henderson opened the scoring at 37:05 of the second half, directing a low kick to the right corner of the net past Viking keeper Allie Weiser. Vikings senior Jessica Remmes responded 15 minutes later, launching a shot from 15 yards out that found the back of the net at 22:44 and tied the score at 1-1. The goal was Remmes’ team-leading 38th of the year. “She’s dangerous,” Aquinas coach Dan Shoniker said.

After Remmes’ goal, the play was dominated by the Vikings, but they couldn’t figure out a way to solve Little Irish keeper Natalie LaVigne. A 5-foot-9 sophomore, LaVigne continually stoned the Vikings, including a tremendous diving stop of an Alicia Fisher shot with just 20 seconds remaining in regulation. “Their keeper made some amazing stops,” Remmes said.

Viking keeper Allie Weiser was also up to the task, matching LaVigne save for save. “She’s the real story of the game,” Bowman said of his sophomore keeper. Weiser made three key saves on Henderson, the biggest coming at 5:10 of the first overtime when she made a diving stop going to her right. “I thought that one was going to do it for us,” Shoniker said of the shot.

After two 10-minute and two five-minute overtime sessions, the game went to penalty kicks in a best-of-five shootout. The Little Irish made an interesting personnel change for the kicks, substituting Daniella Pettinari for LaVigne. “She’s a little more experienced and quicker,’ Shoniker said of Pettinari. “Natalie knew coming in that was our plan.” Henderson led things off for Aquinas, hitting the post on her attempt.

Grand Island junior Alicia Barnaby was next up, but she shot wide, leaving each team scoreless after the first kick. Julie Principe then hit the crossbar on Aquinas’ next attempt. “I’ve never seen two posts in a row like that,” Shoniker said after the game.

The Vikings capitalized on the misses, as Jessica Kuehne, Remmes and Jackie Coe scored. Needing a goal to extend the penalty kick session, Aquinas junior Amanda Coffey shot wide left, and the Vikings mobbed Weiser. “We’ve been practicing penalty kicks all year long just in case,” Remmes said.

Next up for the Vikings is a matchup with the winner of the Section VIII vs. XI game in the state semifinals. Grand Island will play at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the Binghamton School District Field. “Today was a huge test,” Bowman said, following the game. “I think this is going to bring our confidence level up.”