AMHERST - For the No. 8 Fredonia Lady Hillbillies, Tuesday night was a learning experience at Amherst High School in the Section 6 Class B semifinals.
Unfortunately, it was a tough lesson to learn as the much more talented No. 4 Akron Tigers showed their skills in a 4-0 victory to advance to Saturday's championship game.
Akron's Paige Buscaglia put on a clinic at the midfield with her footwork and ability to find the open player.
"Their first touches and their ability to get a pass right to the foot and to receive that pass was exceptional," Fredonia coach Cathy Cruver said. "It's the fundamentals. We continue to work on that. As far as speed, we have that. We just need to work on the foot skills."
Buscaglia put the Lady Tigers on the board at the 26:20 mark as she slipped past the Fredonia defenders for a breakaway and ripped a shot to the far post for the 1-0 lead.
Nearly 12 minutes later, Buscaglia was the facilitator as she intercepted a pass at midfield and quickly gave a lead pass to teammate Leach Czechowski who scored to give Akron a 2-0 lead.
"This is the first time we faced a team that actually has three really good strikers and midfielders," Cruver said. "Their passing game is just outstanding. That's where we want to be next year. We want to have that kind of game going on for us next year. We got beat by our own scheme tonight."
That scheme involved the midfielders sending a lead pass down the field and letting the forwards go get the ball. And it worked extremely well for the Lady Tigers who looked more comfortable playing on the turf early on.
In the second half, Buscaglia picked up her second goal of the game at the 36:19 mark and Akron put the game away with 26:49 left. After Fredonia goaltender Alex Zentz made the initial save, the ball slipped out of her hands and Ashley Cummings was right there to poke the ball into the net.
The Lady Hillbillies' best chance for a goal came with 26:49 left in the second half as Emily Mackinnon's direct kick was off the mark. Fredonia's Morgan Genovese also had a few chances, but the Akron defense was stellar for the most part and did not allow many chances.
"It was a good example for them," Cruver said of her team seeing a team like Akron play. "It's tough. They out-passed us (Tuesday). They have an extremely strong midfield. We are almost there. We will be there. It's a hard pill to swallow. We were hoping to go a little further. We had a good season. We always want it to be better. Our goal was loftier, but we will get there. We are working and we will keep working hard."
Cruver also noted the play of senior Devin Kowalewski.
"Devin played her heart out (Tuesday)," Cruver said. "There is no doubt in my mind that every one of the girls wanted to win this game. That's what makes it hard when you don't get what you want. We learned a lesson and will move on. Unfortunately for the seniors, they don't get to move on. That's where my heart breaks. Devin has given us everything she has. She has been the heart and soul of this team - especially for the last four or five games."
Along with Kowalewski, it was also the final game for seniors Ally Cobb and Brigitte Boettcher.