GIVE ‘EM THE BOOT — Springville-Griffith Institute’s Jen Schelble knocks one out against East Aurora, during the team’s Sept. 26 game. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — It has been nearly a month since the Springville girl’s varsity soccer team has lost a game. The team sits atop first place in its ECIC III division. The Lady Griffs reached the peak of their division, after knocking off then first place Amherst 2-1 on Sept. 26. Alena Woodarek scored in the 29th minute, on a feed from her sister Tia Woodarek, to give Springville a 1-0 lead. The Lady Griffs would hold that 1-goal advantage, at the end of the first half.
Minutes into the half, eighth-grader Jena Schelble scored her first goal of her varsity career, to give Springville a 2-0 lead. Schelble charged the net, and Tia Woodarek fed her a corner kick for the score. Amherst would make it a 1-goal game, with a goal from Lauren Turecki in the 60th minute. However, Springville managed to hold on from there and take the match.
“Tonight was a huge step,” said Springville-Griffith Institute coach Shawn Bullard, after the game. “We had the physical tools, 50/50 balls, and challenging balls aren’t really our strong points, but when it comes to ball movement, and in terms of moving off the ball, our players are ready to go. That was really prevalent, tonight.”
With Springville up 2 goals, third leading scorer and captain Dakota Nesselbush was helped off the field with a lower-body injury. Minutes later, Kate Darling, a key player on Springville’s backline, was also sidelined, due to an injury. The Lady Griffs were already playing without sophomore standout Brittney Luther, who has missed some time because of an injury. According to Bullard, a number of players stepped up and filled in. Juniors Emily Sion, Sara Marren, Mikayla Black and Autumn Noeller all saw extended minutes and came up huge, according to the coach.
“Talk about a gut check, huh?” Bullard asked. ”First, Dakota goes down, Kate goes down; I moved forwards to sweep. I moved forwards to defensive center mid. I was moving players to positions they’ve never even played before. Tonight, we were mentally tough. Our bench really stepped up.”
After Amherst made it a 1-goal game, the opponent continued to put pressure on Springville. With the ball in Springville’s end, late in the game, Springville keeper Heaven Rollek held strong on a number of Amherst chances. In the 67th minute, Rollek leaped and deflected the ball off the post, to protect the Lady Griff’s lead.
“It was just straight-up mental toughness,” Bullard said, about Amherst’s late-game push. “It was, if a team keeps coming at you and coming at you, are you going to bend? Or are you going to break? We just bent a little bit and bent a little bit. [Amherst] served dangerous balls; our shape was a little off but we didn’t break. Talk about a team just coming up and finishing the game. When you’re up and winning, always find a way to win. As Al Davis said, ‘just win, baby.’”
Rollek finished the game with 12 saves. Through her first 10 games of playing competitive soccer, she has allowed less than a goal a game, for a .76 goals per game clip, including two shutouts.
The defense picked up a boost, in terms of depth, when junior Carly Lamos joined the team, according to the coach. After missing the first few weeks of the season, Lamos was a starter Springville’s junior varsity team, a year ago, and she was pulled up to varsity for the playoffs. Lamos played her first game against Amherst and started on defense.
“We put Carly back there on defense, but for her first game, we kind of threw her into the fire,” Bullard explained, about his new addition. “She struggled a little bit, but, as she keeps playing, and gets more experience at this level, she’s going to be a very good back liner for us, in the future.”
Luther returned from injury on Oct. 3, for a game against Lake Shore. In Luther’s return, Springville can plug in the two-year starter at defense, to shore up the back end, Bullard added.
“Her return is huge, our left side was suspect [against Amherst],” Bullard added. “With Luther coming back, she’s just a solid piece to the puzzle. She’s a super-strong player, she’s aggressive and she understands the game.”
Springville took on Lake Shore on Oct. 3, but the score could not be reported by press time. Springville’s league record now stands at 6-1-1, and has taken over sole possession of first place in ECIC III.
“The test that we learned tonight, about this team, was that mental toughness,” Bullard said. “Adversity just hit and it was knocking at the door. Are you going to let that plow through, or just stand up and fight? The girls just chose to stand up and fight. Great players find a way to step up and find a way to get the job done, and you saw that, tonight.”