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Springville-Griffith Institute varsity girls soccer team reflects on the year

SPRINGVILLE — The Springville Griffith Institute girls soccer team fell to Akron 5 – 1 in the Section VI Class B semifinals, on Oct 31. Akron won the Class B Championship, before falling in the Far West Regionals.

After a scoreless opening 15 minutes, Akron took an early 1 – 0 lead, 16 minutes into the game, off the foot of Akron’s Paige Buscaglia. Buscaglia scored 2 goals and had an assist, in the match. Her first goal was 1 of 3 unanswered goals, until Tia Woodarek put Springville on the board in the 22nd minute of the second half.

Akron’s 5 – 1 win knocked Springville out of its chase for a section championship.

“Obviously, it was tough to take,” said Coach Eric Holler. “Not only from the standpoint that it ended our season, but the way the game went. Akron has a great team and they were responsible, in their defensive end. They marked well, played two feet well and won 50/50 balls. Scoring early allowed them to pull extra defenders back, which made it that much more difficult to penetrate.”

The loss ended a four-game winning streak and the Lady Griffins finished with a record of 14 – 5.

The girls’ soccer program increased its number of wins, during the last three years, from five – seven in 2010, seven – 10 in 2011 and from 10 – 14, this season. This was the first time in 16 years that the team had become cochampions of its division.

The girls lost one home game this season, a non-league loss to Hamburg. After losing to division foes Amherst and East Aurora, in their first meetings, the girls avenged those losses, which propelled them to the top of the division, with East Aurora.

“From the beginning of the season to the end, the team showed much improvement,” Holler said. “Not only in individual performance, but team performance. There is still some, I’m sure, we wish we did better at, but, overall, we can’t complain. To be successful in sectionals, it takes a good team, luck and staying healthy, amongst other variables.”

“For this year, we became overwhelmed in the semifinal match and never recovered. Unfortunately, for me, what sticks in my mind is the last game,” Holler continued. “Hopefully, the returning girls for next year will have repeated success.”

The Lady Griffs will graduate seven seniors, this year, including captain Katie Zielen-Ersing, Courtney Schiele, Chelsea Luther, Margaret Ritche, Emily Hens, Hannah Gerber and Tara Felser.

“The seniors were a great bunch of girls,” said Holler. “Seven girls with different roles, personalities and contributions. All contributed. Whether it was challenging their teammates in practice, or playing every minute of every game, all have had a large impact on the season. All will have success in whatever they choose to do and will be tough to replace,” the coach said.

Among those graduating is Zielen-Ersing, a three-year starting goalie. During her years on the team, she has amassed 400 saves and, this season, had seven shutouts. Zielen-Ersing had shutouts in wins, against East Aurora and Pioneer, that helped clinch the Lady Griffs’ division championship.

“Z-E was a fantastic competitor, come game day,” said Holler. “She often bailed the team out, with a big save, or kept our young defense organized, through her constant communication. From the first day of preseason till the end of the season, she was the one who improved the most,” the coach said.

Holler added that replacing the senior goalie will be a challenge, because goaltending is one of the toughest positions to coach. Balancing out the loss of Zielen-Ersing is having Springville’s top three scorers from the last three seasons returning, next year.

Tia and Alena Woodarek have been filling up score sheets since they were in eighth grade. As eighth grade call-ups, the twins shared the team lead in goals, with 7. Three years later, the sisters both have 74 career goals. Finishing their first season on varsity with the same number of goals, the girls will enter their senior year with the same number, as well. Both need 26 goals to reach the 100-goal milestone.

“The team can’t put all the pressure on Tia and Alena,” Holler said. “There are times when they are shadow-marked or double-teamed and, in order to have success, other people will need to contribute, as well. Yes, the team was successful with having Tia and Alena scoring the mass majority of the goals, but, as word gets out, it’s going to get tougher for them to get open and they need support of their teammates.”

Holler added that Dakota Nesselbush may be the support Holler is talking about. Nesselbush has been on the varsity team, since her freshman year.

She has led the team in assists, two out of the last three years, with 38 assists, during that span. Nesselbush has also been the third-leading scorer, with 66 points, during that time. This past year, Nesselbush got a broken nose that required her to miss some field time during the season and play with a face mask.

“Before Dakota had her injury and was forced to wear the mask, she was well on her way to contributing, with not only assists, but goals, as well,” Holler said.

“Next season, the three should have success working together and hopefully, some other players will step up, as well,” the coach concluded.

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