By CHRIS BROOKS, sports editor, wellsvillesports.com
WELLSVILLE — One more victory separated the Eagles of Fillmore from finishing their first regular season in the Jarrett Vosburg era with the most perfect of endings. Lossless.
To do that, the final obstacle that remained was the Wellsville Lions. Although the Eagles moved fast and furiously against them in their previous matchup back home, on the road Friday night, it was a different story.
For much of the first half, the Lions would hang right alongside Fillmore through their midfield battle. But as time continued to tick away, the time to try and grab an upper hand going into the break, was now.
It was a chance that the visitors would not relinquish by any means.
Led on the run by Mitch Ward, the Eagles offense kicked into gear. After his initial shot squirted free from the Lions defense, it would then help set up a brand new opportunity for Henry Sardina, who provided a spectacular goal after an even more spectacular effort to make it happen. The goal would give them the lead, and the energy to take over the game in the second half by scoring three more times to hold Wellsville in check, finishing their regular season undefeated at 16-0 with a 4-0 shutout.
“It was a great end of the regular season for us tonight,” Eagles coach Jarrett Vosburg said. “Wellsville played us tight in the first half, and we were only able to punch in one in the first 40. But our persistent possession was able to win out in the second half with some great play by our center-mids, and stoppers to balance the attack with both corner play and slotted balls through the center. It’s been a fun ride with this incredible group of young men, but now we have to set our sights on a tough Sectional road ahead.”
Sardina would score the first of his two goals with 10 minutes remaining in the opening half for Fillmore (16-0), collecting the ball after Ward’s initial shot went off the Lions defense in front of the goal. With it, Sardina would dance and finesse his way through traffic for a shot off his right foot and towards the far left post past Logan Dunbar in between the posts to break the ice.
The goal would give Fillmore the 1-0 lead to work with going into the break — a lead that they would not give up to Wellsville (6-8-2) for the remainder of the game, as their build-up of pressure all throughout the second half would soon wind up boiling over.
Towards the halfway mark, the Eagles would add to their lead with not just one, but a pair of goals in a span of 1:47, beginning with Ward and his 33rd of the season, as he took a pass in the middle from Eben Schilke and ran loose with it on a breakaway. Without hesitation, the senior rifled it home far post to branch out their lead before he dished out a helper of his own to Jack Cool on the very next transition off a corner kick chance.
With minimal time remaining on the clock, the scoring would conclude with Sardina’s second of the game to cushion their lead even further, as the Fillmore offense put a cap on their sublime, perfect regular season with an 11-4 outshooting of the Lions on the attack. Luke Colombo would have the honor of recording the defense’s sixth shutout in the final seven games, stopping all four shots he was faced with.
On the other end, Logan Dunbar made seven stops for the Lions.
The regular season is now over for both teams, as they now patiently await Sectional seeding which is set to begin this weekend.
“Honestly, I have got an incredible bunch of kids who are willing to work hard and be pushed. We’ve got an incredible culture and program that Coach (Jamie) Mullen has built and laid the groundwork down for. He continues to support us as our timekeeper, and I’ve got the best two assistants in Jordan (Mullen) and (Mike) Wit that any rookie head coach could ask for. Not to mention, a community that lives and breathes soccer. I’m incredibly grateful to be along for the ride, but our job is not done yet.”
Genesee Valley/Belfast 2, Bolivar-Richburg 1
BELMONT — When the battle begins to close in on crunch time, the search for a late-game hero starts. On the final day of the regular season on the ladies side of soccer, that conquest would need to be fulfilled after Bolivar-Richburg and Genesee Valley/Belfast found themselves deadlocked in a tie that would elapse for over 50 minutes in time.
Little by little as each minute passes, time would become their worst enemy. But for Hannah Southwick-Powers, it would be her best friend.
The Genesee Valley/Belfast sophomore wedged her way past the Bolivar-Richburg defense with under 10 minutes left on the clock, possessing the key to unlock the game-long lock by burying her second goal of the game in clutch fashion to pick up the eventual 2-1 lead, and victory to finish their regular season strong at Judy Bliven Field in Belmont, Friday night.
“We knew going into tonight that it would be a battle, and that is exactly what we got,” said GV/Belfast co-coach Duane Powers. “Bolivar-Richburg is a tough team and the (McKinlee and Madigan) Harris twins can strike from just about anywhere on the field. But our defense really locked them in, especially in the second half and that allowed Hannah and Adison (Grusendorf) to get on point with their connections.”
Through an early midfield battle, openings were created by both teams in the next set of 10 minutes leading up to the midway mark of the opening half. Genesee Valley/Belfast (11-3-2) was the first to strike with the first of two connections from Southwick-Powers and Adison Grusendorf, as they took a 1-0 lead deep in the Bolivar-Richburg zone with Grusendorf providing a cross directly in front of the net to Southwick-Powers, where she then lasered the shot home at the 27:02 mark.
Just as the hosts in black and white began to control the lead, it was taken away by Bolivar-Richburg (8-8) after a defensive breakdown saw McKinlee Harris bolt loose on the breakaway, firing off her shot to the top corner of the cage to tie the game at one.
The tie would remain in place for the next 50 minutes of game time, as both defenses duked it out all across the midfield.
But with 8:59 left in regulation, Southwick-Powers would come in through the clutch for Genesee Valley/Belfast with her second goal of the night — her biggest, connecting with Grusendorf on one more pass play deep in the Bolivar-Richburg zone to grab the lead, using their defense to take control and hang on for good to seal up the regular season-ending victory.
The two Southwick-Powers goals came on 11 total shots while a stout defense on the opposite end of the field held the Lady Wolverines to just two shots, with Ashley Burrows making the one save in her triumphant tenure in goal. Kyla Gayton would make nine saves for the visitors in white and red.
Over the weekend, both teams will now await Sectional seeding for their respective placements in tournament play.
Fillmore 5, Cuba-Rushford 0
HINSDALE — In their last game against Bolivar-Richburg, history was made when Hope Russell punched her VIP ticket to join the 100 career goal club from within Fillmore’s rich history on the pitch. On the last day of regular season play Friday night, the Lady Eagles, as a collective unit, was just one more step away from an even more incredible accomplishment.
With one final road trip to take before they head back home as Class D1’s top seed to begin Sectionals, the Lady Eagles would make sure a final statement was made loud and clear.
They’re ready to defend.
For the fourth straight season, Fillmore finished the regular season untouchable, as they used an electric start right off the hop and jet-fueled it throughout the first half of play, accounting for a 3-0 lead at halftime against Cuba-Rushford that they would never let slip from their grasp, coasting towards a 5-0 shutout of the Lady Rebels on Friday in Hinsdale.
Right off the bat, the Lady Eagles (16-0) wasted no time finding their way onto the board first with an enormous amount of quickness led by Hope Russell, grabbing a feed off the foot of Allie Mills and knocking it home for her first of two first half goals. The lead was held until they worked their way through the midfield alongside the Lady Rebels defense, creating an opening for two more goals to work their way into the net.
Grace Russell was next in line to add one of her own, making the solo rush into the offensive zone near midway to branch out the Fillmore lead. Hope would then conclude the opening half scoring with her final tally, with Delaney Hillman dishing along the pass to set it up with five minutes remaining.
The two goals by Russell would see her finish with 43 total across 16 games — right at the top of Section V.
In the final half, Malory DeRock and Oakley Frazier would each grab a goal in the first and last 10 minutes of the battle respectively, poking home shots off a pair of passes from Hope to finish off the scoring for an offense that accumulated a 14-3 outshooting of the Lady Rebels (8-7-1).
Preslee Miller would make all three saves for the Lady Eagles, while Tara Duvall had nine for Cuba-Rushford.
The regular season has now concluded for both teams, as they now await Sectionals beginning next week.
Bolivar-Richburg 3, Houghton Academy 2
BOLIVAR — Like their last battle earlier this season, Houghton Academy and Bolivar-Richburg put on another big show on the volleyball court Friday night, this time in Bolivar.
What started as a dominant start for the Lady Wolverines then quickly morphed into a big rebound for the Lady Panthers. Mix both ingredients together, and you get a wild and hectic five-set donnybrook. Through all of the ups and downs that both teams would battle through, the difference-making moment would come in the last two sets.
Those were powered by a resilient Bolivar-Richburg comeback, as they shook off a tough third set defeat in extra serves to fuel up a dominant and impressive finish to end the evening strong before tournament action in Horseheads on Saturday with a five-set, 25-8, 21-25, 24-26, 25-16, 15-11 win.
It was as overpowering of a start that the Lady Wolverines (9-4) could have hoped for to open up the match, as they worked through a narrow beginning alongside Houghton Academy and floored down on the gas pedal straight through the finish line with the first lead.
For the Lady Panthers (6-7), the next two sets were used to try and shake off a slow start, going on to do just that in a pair of back-and-forth battles beginning in a game-tying second set, where their mid-set run after a 10-10 tie would wind up holding in place despite a late rally in the late stages by the Lady Wolverines.
The third set would unfold as some of the most thrilling competition of the night. Back and forth points, multiple ties, extra serves, it would have everything, and the Lady Panthers would wind up maintaining their momentum through it to push Bolivar-Richburg to the brink as the march forward continued.
But for the hosts, they would find their groove coming down the homestretch in what was their game-tying fourth set of action. With a 10-10 tie on the board after Houghton Academy originally scored five in a row to start, the Lady Wolverines would go on a massive 13-4 run to force the decisive fifth set in the endgame.
In that final set, the Lady Panthers had the narrow upper-hand on Bolivar-Richburg with a four-point lead beginning to close in on victory. On the other side of the net however, one last push of resiliency for the Lady Wolverines would prove paramount to lock up the win, as they rallied back from behind with nine of the set’s final 10 points including seven consecutive points to take the 15-11 game-clinching win.
Powering it all for the hosts was Brena Walp, who was stellar on offense with 14 team-high kills and five aces. Carmen Crowley was not far behind, scoring 13 kills herself. Kori Thomas chipped in with 10 additional kills to pair with nine blocks at the net, while Haley Mascho fired up some excellent service and defense behind 22 service points, 15 digs and 10 aces.
For the Lady Panthers, their dynamic duo of Jess Prentice and Jessica Adenuga were all over the floor trying to keep the ball in play, with Prentice scoring a game-high 42 digs to pair with 15 kills, three aces and two blocks. Adenuga helped further the defensive cause with 22 more digs, coupling them with 13 kills, six blocks and four aces of her own to round off.
Both teams are back on the floor Monday night, with Bolivar-Richburg traveling to visit Olean in a 6:30 p.m. first serve, while Houghton Academy hits the road for a 7:30 p.m. battle in Hinsdale.
Fillmore 3, Hinsdale 0
FILLMORE — After falling to the hands of Houghton Academy back on Wednesday, the chance to rebound came on Friday back home for the Lady Eagles of Fillmore.
On Senior Night, it would turn out to be an excellent send off for all seven of the team’s seniors, as they started off the night against visiting Hinsdale red hot and never looked back, garnering a 25-13, 25-16, 25-14 match victory to bring out the brooms for the straight-set sweep inside the Rock.
Fueling the efforts was a tremendous evening for service on the back line by the Lady Eagles (7-7), as Skylar Gaddy charged it with a team-high seven aces. Jessi Rust chipped in with four aces, while Emily Reed had three of her own to pitch in.
Hinsdale (2-11) saw Izzy Noll lead the defense with 10 team-high digs. Jillien Darcy helped out with six more digs of her own, while Felisha Veno took charge of the Lady Bobcats offense with her three kills and one helper.
Both teams are back to it Monday in a pair of 7:30 p.m. first serves, with Fillmore hitting the road for a visit to Cuba-Rushford, while Hinsdale heads back home to host Houghton Academy.