By CHRIS BROOKS, sports editor, wellsvillesports.com
FILLMORE — Fillmore senior Mitch Ward is having the season of his life.
In his final curtain call for the Eagles, he has become their All-Time Goalscoring and Career Points leader in one foul swoop. After a five-goal night against Andover/Whitesville back on Monday, he all of a sudden closed in on another potential accolade to add to his showcase — 100 career goals.
Entering Wednesday night, he would need just one.
With time ticking away, Ward would make sure he found the scorebook by the end of the night against visiting Genesee Valley/Belfast, as he scored the team’s final goal with nearly 10 minutes remaining to eclipse the century mark in his incredible soccer career for the Eagles, as an early first half tone was set to capture their 12th straight win by a 5-0 count.
“It was a really nice team win for the boys tonight. GV/Belfast has improved a ton since we saw them earlier in the season, and they hung with us for most of the first half. We possessed the ball very well and got some timely goals at the end to open up the game a bit,” said Eagles coach Jarrett Vosburg. “Our defense was rock solid again to earn their eighth shutout. I give Brent (Zubikowski) a lot of credit for keeping us organized back there, and giving us the structure we needed from the sweeper position.”
The Eagles (12-0) wasted no time making their immediate impact known right in the first 40 minutes of play, as they took a 3-0 lead going into the break, with their first goal coming just over six minutes in from Eben Schilke and his unassisted marker.
The last two scores would come in clutch fashion right before the time ran out on the clock, as Brent Zubikowski and Isaiah Sisson both found the back of the net in a span of 1:14 off assists provided by Ward and Schilke to help close out the scoring.
Before he found the back of the net for his 100th tally, Ward issued his final assist out to Damon Wood in the first 10 minutes of the second half to branch out the Fillmore lead to four. At the 68:25 mark in the game, the time had come for the Fillmore senior to make history one more time, as he took a pass from Brent Zubikowski and ran off with it into the Genesee Valley/Belfast (5-5-3) zone, connecting with the back of the goal to finish off another victorious night on their home field.
The four goals scored by the Eagles stemmed off 11 total shots on offense, while the defense held down the fort superbly against the visitors in white and black, allowing just one shot. Luke Colombo would make that save to record the shutout, while Thai Norasethaporn made six saves for Genesee Valley/Belfast, who is now off until Friday night back over the road, visiting Cuba-Rushford in a 5 p.m. contest.
Fillmore will now gear up for their second and final matchup with the Bolivar-Richburg Wolverines right back on their home field, also on Friday, as both teams square off in a 7 p.m. first kick that will likely determine the outcome of this year’s Allegany County League Championship.
Friendship/Scio 3, Hinsdale 2
HINSDALE — It was a 3-2 defeat to Hinsdale in double overtime that Friendship/Scio wanted to have back, last week. The chance for redemption came on Wednesday with a trip to visit the Bobcats for their second and final meeting of the season.
The game would end in the same score on the board. But this time, Friendship/Scio would make sure redemption was sought at the end of the night, as they used a go-ahead first half goal from Brenden Loucks to regain control of their lead, ultimately for good despite some late pressure by the Bobcats in the very last moments of the game to hang onto a 3-2 road win.
“We did a good job on our set pieces tonight, and that last goal in the second half to keep us away from them was huge,” said Friendship/Scio co-coach Dillon McFall. “They’re tough in the middle with (Damion) Brown, (Robert) Childs and (Jake) Elliott, those guys are more skilled than some of our guys in the middle of the field. But our guys hung tough and stuck with their marks. For the most part, it was a great win after they got us the last time. We hung with them pretty well.”
Right from the hop, Landen Arnold created a hot start for Friendship/Scio (5-8-1) to work with, collecting a pass on the team’s first rush into the Hinsdale zone, and finding the free space in the goal to put his shot away to break the ice just 1:48 into the game. The lead would hold until the Bobcats (4-8) provided their first response past midway, as Ethan Chapman handed out a pass to Damion Brown at the 15:39 mark for him to finish off moments later, tying the game at one.
But the quick deadlock would not last long. Friendship/Scio would re-assume control of the game going forward with Brenden Loucks finding the back of the net a little over two minutes removed from Hinsdale’s goal, gaining the 2-1 upper-hand in the process to carry into halftime.
In the first 10 minutes of the second half, the visitors would add a big piece of insurance to keep the Bobcats even further back, as Jordan White navigated his way past the Bobcats defense and into the back of the net himself to finish off the scoring with a 3-1 lead.
It would hold right up until the final minute when Hinsdale applied some late pressure with a penalty kick that was elected and scored by Preston Jackson, cutting their deficit back down to one with 44 seconds left. But the Friendship/Scio defense was able to hold strong until the final horn, as they completed the redeeming victory.
Hinsdale would outshoot Friendship/Scio by a narrow 6-5 count in the contest, but it was Taylor Moore that was awarded the win with four saves. On the other end, Celeb Elliott made two saves for the Bobcats.
Both teams are back in action Tuesday night after the Columbus Day holiday, as Friendship/Scio welcomes in Houghton Academy for a 5 p.m. contest in Friendship, while Hinsdale looks to rebound back on their home field with a 7 p.m. battle against Andover/Whitesville.
Cuba-Rushford 3, Houghton Academy 2
CUBA — A thriller unfolded from within the Wighthouse on Wednesday. In what was the most exciting battle of the night, the Lady Rebels of Cuba-Rushford and Lady Panthers of Houghton Academy gave it everything they had in their final battle of the season.
Both teams went back and forth across all five sets that were put on full display on the floor. After being pushed to the brink after a third set defeat, the Lady Rebels would go on to provide one of the more massive comebacks to end the night, as they edged out Houghton Academy to force a fifth set which they would go on and claim along the way, performing a season sweep of the Lady Panthers in a 23-25, 25-18, 16-25, 25-23, 15-12 decision.
“It was a great battle. Houghton is super scrappy, and you really have to put the ball on the floor against them,” Lady Rebels coach Josh Tompkins said. “I have not seen a better player in the County all year than Jessica (Prentice). She is so consistent and strong. She really is a one-woman wrecking crew. It’s been fun to watch and see her progress over the season. We really grinded to earn this win, and we toughened up as well. Hopefully this game will give us something to build off of going forward.”
The first set of the night was claimed by Houghton Academy (5-4) after an early back-and-forth battle settled in fairly quickly. The Lady Panthers were able to find a small opening to work with as the set progressed further, garnering a lead of four — the set’s largest in its entirety, but it would shrink back down with help from Bri Green and the Lady Rebels.
A 19-18 lead for the visitors would now stand on the board after three of Cuba-Rushford’s (6-5) next four points were collected off of the hand of Green, and onto the floor on the other side of the net. It would create a momentum shift to jump back onto even playing ground with Houghton Academy all the way to the end of the set, where the Lady Panthers were able to hang on after a deflection by the Lady Rebels soared out of bounds, and out of reach to earn the 25-23 win.
But despite falling in the slimmest of margins, the Lady Rebels were able to bounce back in a big way after a strong start to the second set allowed them to set an early tone. Three straight aces off the hand of Kendall Tompkins would help break the ice, as the team’s service from the back line continued to provide even more cracks into the ice with six of their first seven points all coming on aces against the Houghton Academy defense, with Lauren O’Keefe adding three more herself in the midst of the run.
The Lady Panthers would attempt a rally back against the Lady Rebels, cutting their deficit down to as small as three points down the homestretch after back-to-back aces helped their cause. But ultimately, the hosts would remain one step ahead with Green collecting back-to-back aces herself to finish off a strand of four consecutive points, earning the 25-18 win.
The back-and-forth pace would settle in after both teams laid claim to the first two sets, each garnering one more, including a big rebound from the Lady Rebels in the fourth set to carry the momentum they built into the fifth and final set of the night. That was a point in time where they were able to find the winning edge necessary to end the night on the most positive of notes.
Green would lead the offense for the hosts with a team-high 10 kills to go with her three aces. O’Keefe chipped in with nine kills and five aces, while Lilah Stroud added in nine more kills of her own to couple with three blocks. Tompkins would wind up with a whopping 32 game-high assists to pair with four aces and four digs on defense.
Houghton Academy saw Jess Prentice take charge on defense, recording an incredible 29 game-high digs to go with 19 kills on the attack, four aces and three blocks. Setter Abby Reitnour handed out 30 assists to go with 16 additional digs, and a pair of kills to round off. The Lady Panthers are back on the road Friday night for a 6 p.m. first serve in Wellsville.
Up next is tournament action in Olean for the Lady Rebels bright and early Saturday morning. Their regular season will resume next Friday night back home in the Wighthouse, hosting the Lady Lions of Wellsville in a 7:30 p.m. contest.
Bolivar-Richburg 3, Hinsdale 0
BOLIVAR — The Lady Wolverines of Bolivar-Richburg got their night off on the right foot on Wednesday, scoring the opening advantage against visiting Hinsdale out of the gate in the first set. From there, they would continue to grow stronger as time went on, as they came together to deliver a straight-set shutout with two dominant finishes over the Lady Bobcats to take the 25-16, 25-10, 25-9 win at home.
Fueling the offensive efforts for the Lady Wolverines (7-3) was Brena Walp from the back line, as she scored a game-high 13 service points to pair alongside her eight aces, adding six kills on the attack to assist in establishing the foundation for the team’s success.
Furthering the cause was Carmen Crowley led the team in kills with eight, while Haley Mascho (13 digs) and Jayna Thomas both helped the service cause, each collecting nine service points to pair with their seven aces.
On the other side of the net, Hinsdale (2-8) was led by a team-high 10 dig effort on defense from Lily Howell, who also added four service points from the back line along the way. Jaylee Jimerson recorded eight digs to couple with three kills and two aces, while Felisha Veno rounded off with a duo of kills on the attack. The Lady Bobcats will return home for their next contest on Tuesday, hosting Ellicottville at 6:30 p.m.
Bolivar-Richburg will take aim at potentially a fifth straight win on Friday, as they hit the road to visit Genesee Valley/Belfast in a 7:30 p.m. first serve.
Fillmore 3, Genesee Valley/Belfast 0
FILLMORE — After what was perhaps their biggest win of the season just 24 hours ago, the Lady Eagles of Fillmore have now entered win now mode. In their third game in as many days, they would climb their way back to .500 on the season by the end of Wednesday night, as they swept visiting Genesee Valley/Belfast in a 25-13, 25-13, 25-14 decision inside the Rock.
The Lady Eagles (6-6) attack was fronted with some solid service from the back line, led by Savannah Hosmer who was a key contributor in the team’s big win over Canisteo-Greenwood the previous night, as she came right back and delivered nine huge aces to pair alongside seven kills. Skylar Gaddy (two kills) and Emma Beardsley (one kill) each garnered six aces, while Zoe Hubbard passed out 20 assists to continue fueling the offensive fire.
Genesee Valley/Belfast (0-12) was led by Raygen Haggstrom on offense, recording five kills and three aces from the service line. Liliana Porter had five more kills to add in, while Cassidy Hand scored seven assists at the front of the net.
Both teams are back on the floor Wednesday night over the road, as Fillmore travels down the road for a 6 p.m. first serve with their neighbors at Houghton Academy, while Genesee Valley/Belfast prepares for a 7:30 p.m. visit to Hinsdale.
Chris Brooks Photo gallery: