Photo gallery and story by CHRIS BROOKS
WELLSVILLE — They have spent the last eight game days packing and piling onto the bus and hitting the road, taking trips to places like Addison, Wayland-Cohocton, Fillmore and Bath-Haverling to name a few.
Now, it was time to come home.
For the first time this season, the lights were turned on for some boys soccer inside the Lion’s Den, as Wellsville looked to bounce back in the biggest of ways in front of their home crowd with a visit from Genesee Valley/Belfast in store on an overcast and brisk Tuesday night.
All throughout the night, the midfield battle raged ever so strongly.
The opportunities to strike were limited, but once a team was able to open the door just enough, it would remain as such. The Lions were the first to be able to do that, holding the lead going into the break.
But when the second half came around, that door was broken down.
It was home sweet home.
With Genesee Valley/Belfast still within reach in the late stages of the second half, the hosts in black and orange were able to create one final opening with back-to-back goals in the last 10 minutes of play to solidify a perfect end to their home opener, as Blake Kalkhof, Aiden Cowburn and Cam Lyons all posted big scores to propel Wellsville towards a big 3-0 shutout.
“It feels great for the boys. They’ve put in a lot of time on the road the last five weeks, and they earned this,” said Lions coach Bethany Faulkner. “It was nice to see us put some passing sequences together. Our defense did a great job not allowing many thru-balls. We played at a quicker tempo tonight than we have all season and I think that allowed us to play on our side of the field more.”
Handling possession quickly became a monstrous advantage to hold as time went on. Each team would have an opportunity to sway the balance of power in their direction, with Genesee Valley/Belfast (5-4) getting the game’s first bundle of chances in the first 15 minutes of play, while the Lions provided a tilt for what was the remainder of the half.
As a result, they would grab the first goal at the 18:56 mark, stemming off a deep ball from Ethan Bailey at center sent straight in on the Genesee Valley/Belfast goal for Blake Kalkhof to get enough of his head onto the shot to redirect it into the cage to break open the scoring with a 1-0 lead at the break.
Genesee Valley/Belfast came out swinging again with a breakaway opportunity — their best chance to tie the game at one early in the second half, with Wyatt Weaver and his continuance of the ball up field against several Wellsville (2-7) defenders along the way. Multiple blocks were seen, but Weaver kept the momentum flowing straight to Gavin Haggerty in between the posts, where he was able to come away with the save.
The momentum remained in favor of the Lions for much of the last 40 minutes, as they kept Genesee Valley/Belfast on their feet with a bountiful amount of pressure. With the lead already in hand, they would proceed to build upon it in the last four minutes, netting a pair of daggers from Aiden Cowburn and Cam Lyons, with Cowburn scoring a laser off a big helper from Evan Billings to his left before dishing along his helper to Lyons for the one-timer in front with 34 ticks left to end the game.
The three goals came on five shots for the Lions, as they were outshot by Genesee Valley/Belfast by a 22-5 count. The win belonged to Haggerty, making all the stops for the shutout, while Kyle McCumiskey made three saves for the visitors in white and black, who will revisit the Lions to complete their home-at-home series Friday night at the Rich Sullivan Complex in Belfast at 7 p.m.
Beforehand, Wellsville will head back out on the road tonight in a quick turnaround, as they prepare to visit Section V juggernaut Livonia in a 6 p.m. first kick.
Campbell-Savona 3, Cuba-Rushford 2
CAMPBELL — After an incredible and thrilling finish the previous day against Canisteo-Greenwood, the Rebels of Cuba-Rushford were faced with a tough task of transferring their momentum into the next day when they hit the road for a visit with Campbell-Savona on Tuesday.
Between both teams, they would score five combined goals, all of which in the first 40 minutes of play in back-and-forth fashion in the early and late stages. One team was going to land the decisive blow before the half reached its conclusion. That being the host Panthers, as Colin Klemann’s pair of scores out of the gate in the first 10 minutes allowed them to set up shop for what was a 3-2 win to end Cuba-Rushford’s six-game win streak.
“We came out a little flat tonight and Campbell-Savona definitely made us pay,” said Rebels coach Rob Wight. “It’s very difficult to chase a game, especially after playing 95 minutes the night before. We made some defensive adjustments for the second half and I thought Sebastian Saulter and Tristan Clayson did a great job for us at limiting their attack. My guys showed a lot of heart and effort to try and battle back, but sometimes it’s just not your night.”
With the Panthers striking while the iron was hot in the first five minutes and change, the Rebels (6-3-1) would get to within one after surviving a midfield battle in the middle stages, as Jake Elliott found the back of the net on a direct kick with 8:45 left to play. But it would be as close as they would get to the hosts, as they fired right back with a header off Ethan Akins and into the net to give Campbell-Savona their two-goal lead again.
But Cuba-Rushford would knock it down to one with a tally from Robert Childs, as he connected with Luke Brooks on the score to make it a 3-2 ball game. For the rest of the 40 minutes, it would turn into a battle for possession across the midfield — one that allowed the Panthers to take care of business and end the visitors’ hot streak.
The Rebels tallied just five shots on goal, with Campbell-Savona outshooting them by a 9-5 count. In net, Alex Baron made six saves.
On Saturday, the Rebels will now look to regroup before hitting the road once more for a 7 p.m. to Fillmore to take on the undefeated Eagles.
Northstar 1, Houghton Academy 0
HOUGHTON — Just a single goal found its way into the back of the net on Tuesday in Houghton. In the final regular season clash between Northstar and Houghton Academy, it came down to the wire with the host Panthers putting one final instance of pressure on their opposition.
But despite it, the Knights were able to shake it off and withstand the test of time until the end, as they secured the season series sweep of the Panthers with a narrow 1-0 shutout over the road.
“They’re a good enough team where if you make a mistake, you pay for it,” Panthers coach Jeff Prentice said. “They’re a well-rounded team. We took some risks at the end, and Javier (Velasco) had two great looks, one of them right off the crossbar, to give us a chance to win. But they had possession a little bit more than we did. We played really well from the last time we went up there to play, despite it.”
Harold Acuna was the lone goalscorer across all 80 minutes of action, as Northstar made the most of their opportunities just past midway in the opening half to set up shop and hold on for the victory in the end. The one shot for the Knights came as part of a 16-shot barrage against the Panthers (3-6-1), who were outshot by a 16-7 count.
Marco Zanini would make 12 saves for the hosts in blue and white, who now get set to travel down the road to Fillmore for a 7 p.m. contest Friday night.
Alfred-Almond 8, Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg 2
ANDOVER — The tone was set almost immediately out of the gate by the Alfred-Almond Eagles on Tuesday, as they went fast and furious up and down the field against host Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg and never looked back on what became an 8-2 victory in Andover.
Right away, Alfred-Almond was going to grab their first lead in the game’s first five minutes, with two of Kouki Yatani’s three goals coming in the first 10 minutes of play to push Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg (4-5) off-balance. Lucas Stearns and Tighe Grigg each came together to deliver back-to-back punches to follow up Yatani’s quick scores in a two minute span near midway in the half, as they branched their lead even further to four.
Yatani would proceed to finish off his hat trick with 7:39 left in the opening half, taking what would be a 5-0 lead over the hosts in black into the break.
With Alfred-Almond scoring three more times, including two more scores by Grigg to finish the team’s second hat trick, Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg was able to get onto the board themselves, scoring two goals in 25 seconds with a Ronaldo Vasquez direct kick getting the party started. Colton Calladine would also get the primary assist on the score, while Robert Bradley finished off the scoring a very short time later with one of his own to help close the gap for the home team.
In goal, Derek Perkins went on to make 18 saves against the Eagles, who outshot the hosts by a 26-16 advantage in the shots department.
Next up for Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg is a 5 p.m. visit to Dunsmore-Latimer Field, where they will face the Bolivar-Richburg Wolverines on Thursday.
Fillmore 10, Avoca/Prattsburgh 0
AVOCA — While the girls squad was the first to reach 10 wins in the County on Monday against Andover/Whitesville, the defending Class D State Champions were looking to inch closer towards that plateau 24 hours later, as they scored their ninth consecutive victory over the road at Avoca/Prattsburgh after scoring five goals in each half to set up a 10-0 shutout on Tuesday.
Out of the 10 goals that the Eagles (9-0) were able to ignite the offense with, Henry Sardina came up with a bounty of markers, scoring four in all to go with an assist to complete a nine-point night on offense. Eben Schilke also had another fine offensive performance to add in for the team in white and green, as he scored a marker to pair with three assists.
Adding more help along the way for the visitors, was Zach Sisson and his pair of goals to go with his assist on the team’s final goal from Carson Sanasith. Layton Sanasith and Jack Cool rounded off the scoring with a goal each, while Joe Sadler had a helper on Sardina’s third goal to help close out the first half.
“A lot of things went well for us tonight in Avoca. We had an early push from our usual suspects in Henry and Eben, but it was good to see some guys who had been a little less active of late like Zach, Jack, Carson and Layton find the back of the net as well,” Eagles coach Jarrett Vosburg said. “Ryan, Brayden (Hennard) and the defense combined for their eighth shutout this year. I want to make it a point to credit Avoca/Prattsburgh for trying to play the right brand of soccer. They’re a simply younger, less experienced team right now, but their commitment to playing a solid, system-based approach to the game is going to pay off in a year or two.”
Fillmore posted 26 shots on goal while holding Avoca/Prattsburgh to just four in return — all of which were stopped by Ryan Vedder to record the shutout in between the posts.
The Eagles will skedaddle back home for their next meeting under the lights on Thursday, as they prepare to play host to their crosstown rival Houghton Academy at 7 p.m.
Avoca/Prattsburgh 3, Genesee Valley/Belfast 1
BELMONT — With two strong sets of action pushing host Genesee Valley/Belfast towards the brink in a hurry, the hosts were able to bring it back together for a powerful third set victory to remain alive. However, the visiting Lady Titans were able to bring it back full circle with their strongest set of the net to capture the four-set triumph on Tuesday in Belmont, 25-21, 25-16, 25-27, 25-10.
The offensive front for Genesee Valley/Belfast (2-7) was paced by a stellar effort from Madison McKenzie, who recorded seven kills and seven aces from the back line. Liliana Porter-Long also chipped in seven kills of her own to pair with three aces. Kendra Bigelow rounded off the scoring with another great night for the hosts in black, posting six kills and a pair of aces.
“The team played much better and more unified, but unfortunately, we couldn’t turn that third set into some momentum for the rest of the way,” GV/Belfast coach Darren Bradt said. “I was so much happier with their gameplay, the communication and hustle and heart. Avoca/Prattsburgh just brings a lot more height to the net than we have, and we need to continue to build with passing and getting out of our serve/receive formations. I thought Madison (McKenzie) played really well with some big time serves, and Cassidy (Hand) did a great job balancing out the hitters.”
Genesee Valley/Belfast is back on the floor Thursday night with a 5 p.m. visit to Bolivar-Richburg.