Photos and stories by Chris Brooks
WELLSVILLE — Magic was in the air just 24 hours ago, when the Lions of Wellsville sent out their Seniors in style with a 3-2 overtime win over Cuba-Rushford. They would look to shift that same sorcery into their next home battle in the Lion’s Den, this time against Bolivar-Richburg, to keep the momentum in their favor.
Despite falling behind the Wolverines going into the break, the Lions would use the second half to their utmost advantage again. It would all come down to the wire with little room left for error between both teams. With nearly five minutes left in regulation, Wellsville was presented with perhaps the game’s most important opportunity.
Just like the previous night, the magic show took center stage, and Ty Vogel once again pulled a rabbit out of the hat.
From the far corner, a kick from Aiden Cowburn was delivered straight to the front of the Bolivar-Richburg net. In the midst of the crowd, the ball was shaken free and caralled backwards to Vogel near the top of the box — nearly in the same exact spot where he ended the game against the Rebels the night before, as he fired the same shot in on goal, going into the far right corner to give the Lions their game-winning goal again, knocking off the Wolverines with a 2-1 win.
After a lengthy midfield battle spanning across the first 20 minutes of play, the door of opportunity would begin to open up for the Wolverines first on a long ball sent down field by Aydin Sisson for Reiss Gaines.
The ball would take a giant bounce before Gaines was able to get just enough of a touch on it to add more momentum towards the Wellsville (4-11) net, ultimately rolling its way past Gavin Haggerty and across before the Lions defense could attempt to clear it out and away from the empty net.
The lead for the Wolverines (6-8-1) would remain glued in place upon both teams and their re-entry to the field for the second half, when the battle for possession raged on in the opening sequences.
Just over 10 minutes into the new session, Wellsville would begin to lead a rush up field to apply a big amount of pressure on the visitors in white and red, led by Aiden Cowburn in the middle of the field in front.
With the ball, Cowburn shifted a pass to his left behind him to a wide-open Cooper Brockway, and without hesitation, he fired in a shot straight on the Bolivar-Richburg goal where it would take a redirection off a Wolverine in front and into the back of the net to tie the game at one to create level playing ground for the majority of the time ahead.
Entering crunch time, something had to give between both teams.
With nearly five minutes remaining in regulation, the Lions set up shop for perhaps their biggest corner kick of the game, with Cowburn providing it in the far corner. The kick sailed straight to the front of the goal, where it was jarred loose for Vogel to pick up possession, work it backwards before firing an absolute missile straight to the back right corner to break a second half-long 1-1 deadlock and turn it into the game-winning goal to secure back-to-back victories for the Lions.
Wellsville has not provided statistics for publication.
Both teams will close out their regular season slates on Thursday in a pair of 5 p.m. first kicks, as Wellsville stays home to host their final home game against Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg, while Bolivar-Richburg heads back home to Dunsmore-Latimer Field to welcome in the Rebels of Cuba-Rushford for Senior Night.
Andover/Whitesville/Jasper-Troupsburg downs Houghton
ANDOVER — With the Eagles of Fillmore having laid claim on Allegany County’s Division I title, the Division II crown was waiting in the wings for Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg, who could capture it all for themselves if they could carve a path around the Panthers of Houghton Academy on Senior Night.
A key word to describe the battle between both squads across the first half of play: quick. Many chances were formulated, many chances were stopped, but one found its way in to give a big boost of energy for one team going into the break and into the second half.
That was Kaiden Miller playing the role of Johnny on the spot.
The lone goal of the first 40 minute period belonged to the Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg senior, as he finished off a gorgeous play on one of the team’s final rushes before the period officially closed up.
The score would allow the balance of power to remain in their favor going forward into the last session, where the hosts were able to score two more goals to grow their lead insurmountably, as they ensured their Seniors were guaranteed a victory on the night, along with the Allegany County Division II crown, as they rolled past Houghton Academy, 4-1 in Andover.
“The boys played outstanding, winning almost every 50/50 ball,” said AWJT coach Cody Borden. “I couldn’t be more proud of the effort. Kaiden Miller came in and cleaned up a beautiful cross from Brody (Vance). Robert (Bradley) continued to lead our team with two more huge scores in the second half that he fought hard for. They all dug deep and they wanted to get this one. They wanted the Division II title and they earned it at the end of the night.”
The opening half was primarily controlled by Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg (7-8), as they kept the Panthers on their feet across nearly the entire period with their quickness and offensive pressure. With Robert Bradley grabbing a couple of massive opportunities to break the ice, it would ultimately see its first crack with six minutes left on the clock, as Bradley provided a strong pass forward for Brody Vance to control near the far sideline.
As he made a turn inside towards the Houghton Academy (5-8-1) net, he then sent an absolutely immaculate cross to the front for Kaiden Miller to bury in one-timer fashion to garner the game’s first advantage going into the break.
The offense would then pick up some steam as time went by, as Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg extended their lead in grand fashion with a pair of scores from Bradley, with his first coming in the opening 10 minutes off a pass sent along by Vance and later at the 14:57 mark to grab an all-important 3-0 lead of the Panthers.
Just over two minutes removed from Bradley’s second marker for the hosts in black, the Panthers were able to work their way onto the board to eliminate the possibility of a shutout, as Ricky Song connected with the team’s lone marker to cut their deficit down to a pair.
But the game would ultimately remain in Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg’s favor, as Vance finished off the goalscoring and his four-point night for the offense with a score of his own with 10:55 left in the battle to cement their 4-1 victory, sending their Seniors out with a bang.
The hosts took complete control of the offensive front, as they outshot the Panthers by an 18-7 count. Leading the charge defensively was Derek Perkins, who made seven saves to grab the victory in between the posts, while Marco Zanini set aside 14 saves for Houghton Academy.
Both teams are back on the field Thursday night, with Andover/Whitesville-Jasper-Troupsburg closing out their regular season over the road with a 5 p.m. visit to Wellsville, while Houghton Academy continues their road swing into Scio where they face Friendship/Scio in a 6 p.m. first kick.
Cuba-Rushford 3, Genesee Valley/Belfast 2
CUBA — It was anyone’s game at Cuba-Rushford, Tuesday night.
Both Genesee Valley/Belfast and the host Rebels went back and forth trading barbs on offense while engaging in the fight of their lives across the field in all directions, for possession. The two foes were looking to provide a bounce back of mass importance to get back into the win column once again.
Like their recent battles over the road, their one-on-one battle would cross into its final stages with the game all squared away at two on each side, with the Rebels becoming the most recent team to strike, bringing the game towards another deadlock. But off the goal, an energy shift was created. In order to unlock its fullest potential, a key was needed.
Fortunately enough, that was held by Jake Elliott, who delivered the biggest of rockets from near the 40-yard line, sending it straight on the Genesee Valley/Belfast net where it would touch nothing but the grass on the bounce into the far side of the net to pull the Rebels ahead for good, as they delivered a rebounding performance with a thrilling 3-2 Senior Night victory.
“I couldn’t be more proud of how the boys, especially Jake, bounced back tonight,” Rebels coach Rob Wight said. “We went 2-1 down with 13 minutes left and he missed a penalty kick a minute after they took the lead. For him to turn right around and get an assist and then score the game-winner, it shows a lot of mental toughness and guts. It was Senior Night, and every player on the field for us and the effort they showcased was everything a coach could ask for.”
After possession saw the Rebels take control to begin the night, Genesee Valley/Belfast was the first to strike against the Rebels (8-6-1) near midway on a play that stemmed in the far corner — one that saw Thayne Cobb pry the ball free from the defense in time to shift a pass along to Evan Turybury right next to him. Turybury then used his finesse to create an open lane to bury his shot straight to the back of the net to break the ice.
But just as quick as Genesee Valley/Belfast (7-5-2) was able to take the lead, Cuba-Rushford came right back and delivered a game-tying jab at the 19:08 mark with Robert Childs setting up shop with a pass to the front for Kaden Bell, who launched a rocket that took a redirection off the body of Tanner Lewis front and center of the goal to ensure the score and a 1-1 tie going into the break.
The defensive play would then take center stage for a good majority of the second half, leading up to Genesee Valley/Belfast’s go-ahead score with 13:29 left to go, as Ian McKenzie bodied a cross into the net from Turybury right next to the far sideline to pick up the 2-1 lead. But like the first half, the Rebels came up with a swift answer minutes later.
Not just one, but two.
The first would tie the game back up at two again, as Lewis recorded his second of the game off a corner kick put on goal by Childs. In the midst of the chaos, Kyle McCumiskey batted the ball in the air to try and clear it out, but some quick awareness by both Elliott and then Lewis allowed the ball to reach the back of the net on back-to-back headers to create even playing ground.
With 4:44 to go, Cuba-Rushford went on to call game with Elliott scoring a marker of his own from way downtown, as he airlifted the ball straight over the mob of players crashing the Genesee Valley/Belfast net and straight into the back left corner to help finish off the win on Senior Night for the hosts in blue.
In all, 28 total shots were accumulated between both teams, as Cuba-Rushford took an 18-10 advantage over Genesee Valley/Belfast. In goal, Alex Baron picked up the win behind eight saves, while McCumiskey settled for 15 saves for the visitors in white.
Both teams will return to action Thursday night on the road, as the Rebels prepare for a 5 p.m. visit to Bolivar-Richburg, while Genesee Valley/Belfast heads up north to Fillmore for a 7 p.m. clash.
Oswayo Valley 3, Bolivar-Richburg 0
BOLIVAR — Sectionals have begun to creep closer and closer. For the Lady Wolverines of Bolivar-Richburg, they were given a tough task on Tuesday — Oswayo Valley, one of Pennsylvania’s most prominent powerhouses on the volleyball court.
The Lady Wolverines were able to answer the call with a few big runs to stay within reach of the Lady Green Wave, but at the end of the night, the visitors found every opening they could on Bolivar-Richburg’s side of the floor, as they took care of business in straight-set sweeping fashion with a 25-17, 25-23, 25-21 victory.
Right away, Oswayo Valley went right to work against the Lady Wolverines (8-2), rattling off five of the first six points by taking full advantage of the openings on the other side of the net. The hosts in red would find a way to carve their path back into the battle, responding with their fair share of points to cut the deficit down to as little as one on multiple occasions.
But the Lady Green Wave maintained all momentum from the start of the set with a strong finish, recording the 25-17 win to jump ahead first.
In the second set, the Lady Wolverines sprung out to an early lead of their own before Oswayo Valley forced a 7-7 tie, setting up the stage for a back-and-forth exchange of points from that point until the final serve was delivered.
The Lady Green Wave found an opening right down to the wire, pushing the Lady Wolverines against the wall with set point hanging in the balance in the midst of their 24-17 lead.
Bolivar-Richburg would not back down however, as they went on to score the next six points in a row with the help of Brena Walp’s service from the back line. But the visitors in green were able to slam the door shut on their comeback bid to push them towards the brink with a 2-0 match lead entering the third set.
In it, the Lady Green Wave was able to hang onto all of the momentum they established across the match to secure a big straight-set sweep of the Lady Wolverines to head home victorious.
Leading the hosts on offense was Kori Thomas, as she recorded a team-high nine kills to go with five digs and two blocks.
On defense, Walp paced the efforts with 11 digs to pair with three aces, while Carmen Crowley chipped in eight more digs of her own to keep the ball up off the floor, coupling them with six more kills.
The Lady Wolverines hit the road in quick turnaround fashion tonight, visiting the Lady Bobcats of Hinsdale in a 7:30 p.m. first serve.
Wellsville 3, Avon 0
AVON — The Lady Lions of Wellsville have regained traction after being dealt their first two losses of the season by Bolivar-Richburg and Cuba-Rushford, as they took their talents over the road on Tuesday to Avon and returned home with their fourth straight victory in one foul swoop, rolling in straight-set fashion by a 25-17, 25-21, 25-16 count.
An all-out balanced attack across the board assisted Wellsville (8-2) in setting the tone against Avon, with Makenna Dunbar helping set up shop with six team-leading kills to pair alongside seven digs on defense and a block. Furthering the offensive cause was Averee Palmatier, who chipped in with five kills, four aces from the back line and four additional digs on defense.
Adding more help was Lindsay Stuck, who kept the ball off the floor with eight strong digs to go with four aces and a pair of kills, while setter Maddy Parks helped set everything up with 18 helpers, coupling them with four digs.
The Lady Lions are back home to face off against Houghton Academy on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Cuba-Rushford 3, Genesee Valley/Belfast 0
BELMONT — Genesee Valley/Belfast gave everything the Lady Rebels of Cuba-Rushford could handle, including back-and-forth runs across the match, but the win ultimately would belong to the Lady Rebels in straight-set fashion in a 25-14, 25-13, 25-14 decision on Tuesday in Belmont.
The Lady Rebels (9-1) were paced by a strong night of offense from Lauren O’Keefe, as she recorded a game-high 11 kills to pair with six aces and a dig on defense. Lilah Stroud followed behind with six kills of her own to go with a block, while setter Kendall Tompkins was busy handing out helpers, garnering 20 in all to pair with four additional digs.
On the other side of the net, Genesee Valley/Belfast (3-11) was led by Karlee Jones, who provided an outstanding tenure of service from the back line, recording eight team-leading acrs to go with two digs. Liliana Porter-Long chipped in with six digs off the floor to go with five kills and two aces to help further the team’s cause.
Both teams are back in action tonight, as Cuba-Rushford heads back home to welcome in Houghton Academy for a 7 p.m. first serve, while Genesee Valley/Belfast hits the road for a 7:30 p.m. visit to Fillmore.