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Springville-Griffith Institute girls soccer crowned as ECIC III champs

JOINING THE 100 CLUB — Tia Woodarek, shown owning the ball against East Aurora, reached her 100th goal during a game against Maryvale. Photo by David DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — There was a different, but familiar, face on the sidelines coaching the Springville-Griffith Institute girls varsity soccer team in the game against East Aurora on Oct. 15. The Lady Griffs head coach, Shawn Bullard, was dealing with flu-like symptoms that would not allow him to be present at the match. His replacement for the game was last year’s coach, Eric Holler, who led the girls to their first division title, co-champions with East Aurora, since 1996. Holler stepped in to lead the Springville women to a 2-1 win and, in the process, clinched their second consecutive division title; this time owning sole possession of the ECIC III crown.

“I’m not even there and those girls just take care of business,” said Bullard, of his team’s performance against East Aurora. “That tells you a lot about the character of these girls. Last year, from being co-champions to this year, having sole possession of the title, having an even better record, filling in those missing pieces and filling in those gaps; it’s just a testament to the girls on this team.”

Springville’s Alena Woodarek broke a 0-0 stalemate in the 27th minute, with a goal that squeakedby the outstretched arms of East Aurora keeper Gwen Haffenden. East Aurora would tie the match minutes later, with a goal from Sam Youngman in the 31st minute. The game would remain deadlocked at 1-1, until Woodarek’s free kick from well outside the 18 found Tia Woodarek, who deflected it past the Blue Devils’ keeper. Springville’s defense held strong from there, to give the Lady Griffs the victory and the ECIC III title.

“Looking back on it, a couple of games were tough,” said Bullard. “Especially the Pioneer games, the Amherst games and the East Aurora games. I mean, those are some tough, tough teams. It was tough, along the way, but each game, we kept on improving. We started to improve our technical skills and just started to improve, as a team. It’s never easy to live up to expectations. All the credit goes to the girls. They bought into the system; they understood what was expected of them. They just went to work.”

On Oct. 17, Tia Woodarek joined her sister in the 100-goal club, during an 11-0 win against Maryvale. Woodarek scored a career-high 6 goals, in the win.

“It’s rare to coach talent like Tia,” said Bullard.

“[She’s] a player that takes it to another level. I mean, 100 goals for a career, that’s quite the accomplishment. It’s just fun to watch her play, because she’s just a unique talent.”

“Getting to 100 was very satisfying,” said Woodarek. “It’s such an honor. It definitely makes all those hard practices worth it. It could have never happened without my coach, Mr. Bullard, and my great teammates. I’m so grateful to have them.”

After losing their first two games of the season, Springville finished the regular season on a 12-0-1 tear, to earn the three seed in the Class A playoffs.

The Lady Griffs hosted Lake Shore on Oct. 22, for Springville’s first playoff game. Alena Woodarek started the scoring with a goal, four minutes into the match, on a feed from Tia. Alena Woodarek would score four more times in the first half, to lead Springville to a commanding 6-0 victory over Lake Shore. She finished with 5 goals, while her sister had 1 goal and three assists. Dakota Nesselbush had two assists and Nicole Paler had an assist, in the win.

“The big thing, coming into the playoffs, is sometimes you get caught up looking at seeds,

said Bullard. “Sometimes, you get caught up in how you did in the regular season. It really just comes down to that mental adjustment, getting ready for the next season. We were mentally focused, from the get-go. I told them that they had to be dialed in and they answered the call.”

Springville played Hamburg in the quarterfinals on Oct. 24.
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