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Springville-GI varsity girls soccer defeats reigning Class B champions

SPRINGVILLE — Whether it was a 1 – 0 win against East Aurora or a 1 – 0 victory at Pioneer, Springville-Griffith Institute varsity girls soccer team has played many close games, this season.

During the Section VI quarterfinals, following an opening 5 – 1 win against Royalton Hartland Central School, the girls headed to Newfane.

The opposing team won the Section VI Class B title the past two years and returned with its top scorer, Alexis Moreland. Newfane came into the game with an 11 – 3 record. Early in the season, Newfane tied Williamsville East, a No. 1 seed in the large school Class A bracket, in a showcase tournament. The Lady Griffins took the game against Newfane 3 – 1 in overtime.

Junior Dakota Nesselbush said that the first half was not one of her team’s better halves of the season.

“Newfane came out, winning all the 50-50 balls,” she said. “They controlled the field and really pressured us. We just, flat-out, needed to play better, in the second half.”

During the first half, Alena Woodarek, a top scorer in Western New York, broke free from the Newfane defense and beat the keeper to make the score 1 – 0, with 27 seconds remaining in the first half.

“Alena’s goal was huge and that’s what she’s been doing, all year,” said Coach Eric Holler. “She doesn’t seem to get rattled and her high fitness level had her with enough energy to bury the opportunity.”

Woodarek said, “It was a major push for us. Newfane was in our half 90 percent of the time, constantly putting pressure on us and our keeper Katie [Zielen-Ersing]. To finish my one opportunity gave us all hope that we could do this.”

Holler said, about his team’s overall play in the first half, “With a highly talented team like Newfane, we just needed to weather the storm and take advantage of our opportunities. In the first half, we had possession for maybe 10 percent of the time and we buried the chance. We struggled early on finding feet and that’s why we couldn’t maintain possession.”

The Lady Griffs took a 1 – 0 lead into halftime and came out with a few scoring chances and defensive stops. A Newfane cross found Alexis Moreland with an open net, but S-GI keeper Zielen-Ersing made the save, to deflect the ball out of play. Zielen-Ersing finished with 14 saves on the day. The goaltender has allowed more than one goal in a game once in the last 11 games.

“Just as Tia and Alena [Woodarek] have scored big goals this year, [Zielen-Ersing] has been clutch in the net,” said Holler. “She makes big saves, which are huge for momentum and confidence, but she also makes some saves look routine and eliminate a chance, before it starts. Fourteen saves is a lot to ask of a keeper, but she was up for the challenge.”

The Lady Griffins played most of the second half with a 1 – 0 lead, before Newfane struck with a goal, late in the half. The goal was a header off of a Newfane corner kick. The half ended with the scored knotted at 1 – 1.

Springville went into overtime for the first time, all season. In high school girls soccer, there are two 10-minute periods, guaranteeing each team to go both ways. The score was not tied for long, as Tia Woodarek struck early in the overtime period, with a goal assisted by Nesselbush, to make the score 2 – 1.

“In overtime, we all wanted to come out strong and give it our all,” Woodarek said. “I netted a goal in the first couple minutes, giving us the lead. From then on, we continued our defensive game and shut them down.”

Woodarek scored later in overtime, to pad the lead with the assist by Courtney Schiele at 3 – 1. The game ended with that score.

Newfane had come off a 5 – 1 win against Olean. The Lady Griffs held Newfane’s Moreland, who had 63 points on the season, pointless, in this win.

“Alexis Moreland is a great player and I am sure she will have success at the next level,” Holler said. “We did our best to neutralize her and attempt to make her a non-factor. Ashley Blidy was the main person responsible for marking her and she did a great job.”

Senior night had been held a week before the Newfane game, but the win was the final home game for Springville’s seniors.

Senior Schiele said she had mixed emotions about the end of the season. “It’s bittersweet, walking off our home field for the last time, knowing we played our hearts out,” she said. “It makes all the hard work, ups and downs, happiness and tears since modified, worth it. I couldn’t have asked for a better senior season and I know the best has yet to come.”

The Lady Griffins played one of their best seasons, to date. Springville finished as the division cochampion for the first time since 1996.

Many of the girls have been on the team for two or more years. Tia and Alena Woodarek have been on the team since they were in eighth grade and senior Zielen-Ersing has been the starting keeper since her sophomore year. Junior Nesselbush has been on the team since the ninth grade and juniors Shea Schelble and Blidy were called up last season as sophomores.

The team also had seven returning seniors from last year’s team. The program has increased the number of wins the last three years from five to seven in 2010, seven to 10 in 2011 and from 10 to 14, this season.

“The program has been improving over the past couple of years, so it’s not a huge surprise that we had success this season,” Holler said.

“Some of our goals in preseason were to win the division, do some damage in the post season [and] win all the games at home. We only dropped one game at home this season and we won the division [co-championship].”

“The defense as a whole, which rarely gets the accolades it deserves, has been great for us,” Holler said. “Chelsea Luther, Brittany Luther, Katelynn Darling, Blidy and Shea Schelble. The win is great, but we still have work to do. We know what we need to do to have continued success: We just need to execute. In sectionals, anything can happen. You could be one bad bounce away from a loss.”

The S-GI Lady Griffins played Akron in the Class B semifinal on Wednesday, Oct. 31.

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