A lot to be proud of

Steelers’ state title run top local sports story of 2016

OBSERVER File Photo Fredonia’s Jarod Burmaster was instrumental in the Hillbillies’ run to the NYSPHSAA Class B title game, where they fell, 8-7, to Marlboro.

1) The Dunkirk/Fredonia Steelers capture first ever New York State Club Hockey championship with a memorable weekend

After being eliminated from the playoffs after losing a best-of-3 series to the iroquois Chiefs, the Steelers defeated Eden/Lake Shore, 4-1, in a play-in game for the final spot in the state championship tournament at the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena.

It was the first time the varsity team qualified for the state tournament.

In the opening game of the weekend, Dunkirk/Fredonia’s Mike Meredith scored with 2:52 left in regulation to salvage a 1-1 tie with Levittown-Hicksville.

Dunkirk-Fredonia was clearly the better team, but could not convert.

OBSERVER File Photo Dunkirk’s Alton Ingram (42) runs for a touchdown against Section V’s Batavia during the NYSPHSAA Class B Far West Regional at New Era Field, in Orchard Park.

“We had lots of opportunities and lots of chances, and we didn’t put the puck in the net,” Dunkirk/Fredonia coach Jay Bishop said after the game.

On the second day of the tournament, the Steelers secured the top seed in the single-game elimination semifinals of the six-team tourney with a 3-1 morning victory over Locust Valley-North Shore and a 8-3 evening win against Rockville Center.

In the semifinals, the Steelers battled Locust-Valley again. This time, it was a much closer and much more memorable game as the Steelers advanced to the final thanks to a heart-stopping 3-2 double-overtime victory.

The Steelers battled back from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime.

After a five minute 4-on-4 extra session finished with the score still tied, the teams played a five-minute 3-on-3 overtime. And with 1:57 left, Meredith stole the puck in the opponent’s offensive end of the ice and took a shot on net. The rebound came out to Chris Buchanan, who buried it home for the game-winning goal, setting off a wild celebration on the ice.

OBSERVER File Photo Members of the Dunkirk Marauders pose for a team picture after they defeated Batavia 50-48 in overtime to move on to the NYSPHSAA Class B semifinals at Cicero-North Syracuse High School against Chenango Forks.

“What a game,” Bishop said. “That was a great hockey game and an incredible ending. That was a great play by (Meredith) and a great shot from (Buchanan). I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

The win set up a rematch in the championship game with the Iroquois.

This time, it was the Steelers who came to play as they defeated the Chiefs, 4-1, for the team’s first ever state title.

While Meredith recorded a hat trick and was named the tournament Most Valuable Player, it was Nick Walter who got Dunkirk/Fredonia rolling. Walter scored just 54 seconds into the opening period as a harmless shot on net found its way into the back of the net.

“This is the happiest moment of my (20-year) coaching career,” Bishop said on the ice afterwards. “This is the first time our varsity organization went to states. Not only did we go to states, but we won states. I can’t say how happy I am for the Northern Chautauqua County Youth Hockey Association. To bring this trophy to our organization, it has done a great job over the years developing young hockey players. I am so happy for the kids.”

OBSERVER Photo by Mike Reynolds Pictured are the members of the Dunkirk/Forestville/Fredonia/Silver Creek 200-yard medley relay team in action. They are, Riley Drummond (backstroke), Katie Webster (breaststroke), Deidra Osula (Butterfly) and Mikayla Reynolds (Freestyle). The team placed 11th with a school record time of 1:49.93.

2) Riding the arm of Jarod Burmaster, the Fredonia Hillbillies made an improbable run to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B state championship game

Burmaster, who made the New York State Class B First Team as a pitcher after helping the Hillbillies to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Class B title game, finished the season with a league/playoff record of 9-1, and a 1.34 earned-run average while allowing 27 hits, striking out 59 and walking 19 in 59 innings of work

In the Section VI Class B-2 title game, Burmaster scattered three hits, struck out 11, walked one and hit two batters, leading Fredonia to a 2-0 victory over Gowanda.

In the Section VI Class B crossover game, the Hillbillies scored four runs on four hits in the top of the sixth inning to rally past the Alden Bulldogs, 5-3, for its fourth overall Class B title since 2012.

Reid Tarnowski laced a single to left field that was misplayed, allowing the tying run to score while Drew Coniglio singled in the eventual game-winning run over a drawn-in infield for a 4-3 lead, before Ryan Mroczka gave Fredonia its final margin of victory with a sacrifice fly that chased home Tarnowski.

File Photo Pictured are Jarod Burmaster, Pat Moore and Eric Swoyer after the Fredonia Hillbillies won the Section VI Class B-2 boys basketball title over Buffalo Health Sciences, on Saturday, Feb. 27, at Buffalo State.

In the Far West Regional game, Tarnowski scored on a passed ball in the top of the seventh to break a scoreless tie, and Burmaster did his part on the mound to help ensure his second career trip to Binghamton, as Fredonia topped Livonia, 1-0.

Tarnowski walked to start the top of the seventh, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Colton Haas and to third on a groundout, before a passed ball off the glove of the Livonia catcher allowed him to score the game’s only run.

“That bunt that Colton Haas laid down, he’s my other senior captain, biggest bunt in school history,”  Fredonia coach Vince Gullo said after the game.

Armed with a 1-0 lead, Burmaster set the Bulldogs down in order in the bottom of the seventh, then embraced his teammates on the mound, as the players mobbed their unquestioned leader and ace, who allowed just three hits while striking out 10 and walking just one in a complete-game effort.

“He’s a gamer,” Gullo said of Burmaster. “He lives and dies for this stuff. But for him to come through again, especially when we struggled a little defensively, and in some of our at-bats (was special). The kids are all trying to play up to their God-given ability, but Jarod’s just been blessed with a little bit more. And that attitude and effort is tough.”

File Photo Fredonia’s Sabrina Macaulay goes up for a pair of her career-high 33 points against Brockport on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The 33 points helped her join the 1,000 Point Club.

In the state semifinals, Fredonia defeated Schalmont, 4-2.

Lucas Voss picked up the win on the mound while Ryan Mroczka provided the offensive spark with a single in the bottom of the fourth, before adding an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth that gave Fredonia a 2-1 lead.

Voss, who relieved Burmaster to start the top of the sixth, went the final two innings while allowing a run on two hits. Voss walked five, but worked out of a seventh-inning jam by picking off Matt Rash at second to end the game. It was a play that many teams in western New York have seen the Hillbillies run 100 times before.

“They didn’t know we did it,” Gullo said of the pick-off move that ended the semifinal. “And that was a perfect throw, and that’s the way you end a game.

“Lucas did a phenomenal job,” Gullo added. “He hasn’t pitched a great deal this year, but his stats are unreal. He throws strikes, he gets ahead, and yeah, they might hit the ball, but if we make good plays, that’s all the better for the pitcher.”

But in the championship game, a rally fell short as Marlboro won the state title, 8-7.

Down 8-3 heading into the final frame, the Hillbillies mounted their final comeback of the season. Burmaster walked ahead of a single by Seth Schrader. Lucas Voss then brought home Burmaster with an RBI double, chasing Dukes’ starter Jack Rusk from the game.

Michael Pucci walked to load the bases for Tarnowski, who flew out to left for the first out. Vince Gullo then followed with an RBI single to cut the lead to 8-5, while Haas reached on a fielder’s choice that saw Voss score after the Marlboro catcher was unable to find the plate for the force out. Mroczka reached on an RBI fielder’s choice off Nick Mongelli, who relieved Marlboro pitcher, Jacob Dreyer, with a 1-1 count to Mroczka. On the play, Pucci scored while Gullo was left at third as the tying run, where he stayed, as Cole Tippens went down looking to end the Hillbillies’ title dreams.

“We let one slip away,” Gullo lamented after the game. “We were a young team. We had just two senior starters and it all starts on the mound. Pitching and defense win championships, and timely hitting. And if we’ve ever had timely hitting, it was this year and this playoff run. We didn’t hit in bunches, but at the right time, and we were able to squeak one across.”

3)  Dunkirk Marauders win first Sectional title, make it to state semifinals

At the beginning of the 2016 high school football season, many prognosticators did not think highly of the Dunkirk Marauders.

And though they played tough, an 0-2 start made it look as if Dunkirk was in for a long season.

As it turns out, the Marauders were indeed in for a long season — a season that no one in Dunkirk will likely ever forget.

After losses to Cheektowaga and Class B South foe Olean to start the season, Dunkirk went on a roll, winning its final five regular season games by a combined score of 198-18, helping the Marauders earn their first ever home playoff game.

“We thought we were going to be OK,” Dunkirk head coach Mike Sarratori said. “We didn’t think we were going to be as bad as people thought. We knew what we had coming back and we knew we could challenge for (a playoff spot). Our goal was we were going to win a division title, even though people didn’t think we could. We fell short of that, so now they’re trying to make up for it.”

In that Class B quarterfinal at Karl Hoeppner Field, No. 4 Dunkirk manhandled No. 5 Maryvale, 59-0, to set up a semifinal matchup with No. 8 Lackawanna, which it defeated easily, 38-8.

“That’s the No. 3-ranked team in western New York and they went to overtime with Cheektowaga (last week), so no, I didn’t expect that at all,” Dunkirk head coach Mike Sarratori said of the lopsided score after the game against Maryvale. “Our kids played out of their minds (Friday).”

Leading the way in those games was senior running back Alton Ingram, who rushed for a combined 307 yards on 37 carries and five touchdowns, as the Marauders set themselves up for a rematch with two-time defending Section VI Class B champion Cheektowaga.

“They’re excited to play (Cheektowaga),” Sarratori said. “I don’t think Cheektowaga has lost (in the Section VI playoffs) in three years, so that’s some motivation for us, and we’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s going to be fun.”

The Warriors defeated the Marauders, 27-13, in the season opener, but the team they faced at New Era Field for the right to play the winner of Section V in the Far West Regional was a much different — and much better — squad than they had seen two months prior.

“It’s not even the same team,” Sarratori said prior to the Marauders’ second game against the Warriors. “The first two games that we lost, we had chances to win both. Against Cheektowaga, you can’t make mistakes like we did against them. That’s a fantastic team with a fantastic coach over there, so when you make mistakes, they’re going to jump on them, and that’s what they did over there, and it was still a close game.”

Dunkirk fell behind 14-0 early, but once again, Ingram got the Marauders going, scoring from 62 yards out while senior quarterback Evon Hernandez helped put Dunkirk up 16-14 with a 3-yard plunge into the end zone with one second left on the clock in the first quarter.

“We knew that they were a good team, but we knew we had potential and we stuck to the game plan and we definitely executed it,” Dunkirk’s senior center, and Section VI Character Athlete recipient, Nick Jones said after the game.

And stick to the game plan they did, but the win did not come as easy as the previous seven had, as the game turned into a shootout. Cheektowaga held leads of 20-16 and 28-24, before Dunkirk took the lead for good on an 18-yard run by Ingram, who finished the night with 226 yards on 28 carries and three touchdowns. But he did not do it all alone on that cold night in early november, as the offensive line opened up holes for Juan Damas (107 yards on seven attempts and a score) and Hernandez as well, who moved the chains on several key quarterback sneaks while also adding a pair of touchdowns.

“I’m just so proud of my guys,” Sarratori said after the game. “That was a good Cheektowaga team and our kids came to play and they refused to quit. I’m just so happy for the city. The whole city is here and it’s just an amazing feeling right now. I don’t know what else to say. These kids didn’t quit and they could’ve quit being down two touchdowns early. But we’ve been doing that for three years… These kids are just fantastic kids.”

Up next was another shootout win over Section V’s Batavia back at New Era Field, where the Dunkirk faithful filled up nearly two full sections of the stadium’s lower bowl. This time around, the game went right down to the wire, as Ingram scored on 16-yard run and added the two-point conversion to help Dunkirk to a 50-42 lead in overtime. Then, after the Blue Devils got a 3-yard score from Jerry Reinhart, setting up a two-point try to tie the game and send it to double-overtime. But Reinhart’s pass missed its mark in the end zone setting off a wild celebration on the Dunkirk sideline, as the Marauders had earned their first-ever trip to the NYSPHSAA semifinals at Cicero-North Syracuse High School against the state’s top team Chenango Forks.

“It’s just a fantastic feeling,” Sarratori said in his post-game comments. “I’m so proud of my guys. We had so many people hurt during the week, some of them didn’t practice and we lost more during the game. But we had people step up and that’s the best team win I’ve ever been involved with.”

It would be hard to argue that it wasn’t an impressive team win, but like he had all season, Ingram shined that night, as he rushed for 240 yards on 33 carries and four touchdowns. Despite his success, however, Ingram knew he couldn’t have done what he did without the help of his teammates.

“It’s so much fun,” Ingram said of playing behind the Marauders’ offensive line, which included Jones, Andrew Vetter, Chauval Black, Jamal Gaines, Peyton Moreland and AJ Morales. “It’s like running behind an NFL offensive line. They open up holes and yeah, we make some mistakes, but we pick it up as a team.”

Dunkirk’s dreams of making it to the Carrier Dome on the campus of Syracuse University to play for a NYSPHSAA state title came to a crashing halt in the semifinals, as they fell to Chenango Forks, 41-8.

The Blue Devils’ LJ Watson ran for 179 yards on 22 carries and four touchdowns, as Chenango Forks proved why they were the three-time defending Class C champion before moving up to Class B this season.

“It was a combination of everything and their execution was just fantastic,” Dunkirk head coach Mike Sarratori said of the Blue Devils. “And that’s something that we’re going to strive for. We thought we were good running things and that we were technically sound, but that’s the next step we have to take if we want to win (a state title). We’ve done well with where we’re at, but to take it to the next step, that’s what we have to do. They executed perfectly.”

Despite the season not ending the way they wanted, the Marauders had too much to be proud of for that one loss to dampen what they accomplished in 2016.

“I told them I was proud of them,” an emotional Sarratori said after the game. “They’ve come a long way in three-plus years and they have nothing to be ashamed of. They’re the first team in school history (to win Section VI and Far West Regional titles) and they’ll have a banner up forever.”

4) DFFSC swimmers impress at state finals

ITHACA — The Dunkirk/Forestville/Fredonia/Silver Creek swimmers finished their season and careers on a high note at Saturday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association swimming finals.

The 200-yard medley relay team of Riley Drummond, Katie Webster, Deidra Osula and Mikayla Reynolds finished 11th overall with a school record time of 1:49.93.

“The whole group finished outstanding,” DFFSC coach Joanne Lotter said. “It was the second day in a row where they were swimming faster. They are proud of themselves, but it’s also bitter sweet for the seniors. In the end we are all proud of the way it came to an end.”

Osula finished 12th in the 50 free with a time of :24.35 while Drummond took 29th in the 100 free at :54.97.

Drummond also placed 14th in the 100 backstroke, finishing with a time of :57.71.

“The underclassmen were honored to be with the seniors and look forward to being the leaders in the coming seasons,” Lotter said. “This weekend gave them a lot of confidence and now they know that they held their own at the state meet.”

Also setting a new school record was the 400 free relay team of Osula, Mackenzie Quinn, Webster and Drummond. The foursome took 21st place with a time of 3:39.41.

The relay teams and individual swimmers were able to compete in the finals after earning a spot through Friday’s prelims. Anyone who finished in the top 30 in each event qualified for Saturday’s championship heats.

5) Billies seeing blue: Fredonia boys win Class B-2 basketball title

BUFFALO – Finally.

Finally Greg Lauer and his No. 6 Fredonia Hillbillies (19-5) received their Section VI blue title patch. After coming up short the last few seasons in the Class B-2 finals at Buffalo State, the Hillbillies came out on the winning end as they upended No. 4 Health Sciences, 52-48, and were set to take on Class B-1 top seed Olean (23-0), on Tuesday (March 1), at 6:45 p.m., back at the Buffalo State Sports Arena for the overall Class B title. The Huskies topped No. 3 East Aurora 67-46 on Saturday (Feb. 27) for the Class B-1 title.

“Excited,” Lauer said of his emotion after the game. “I’m excited for these guys that prepared three or four years (to win a Sectional title). Pat (Moore) four years, Jarod (Burmaster) three years. These guys have worked extremely hard to get to this point and they prepared so well every single day to get ready for these playoffs. I’m excited for them for what they were able to accomplish.”

The Hillbillies were able to accomplish their Sectional title largely on the back of Moore, a senior, who had a game-high 29 points, including 17 in the first half, when Fredonia led by 13 at the end of the second quarter, 32-19.

“He’s a guy that we’ve relied on in big games this year and to get him started early offensively was huge for us,” Lauer said.

The Hillbillies opened the game on an 8-2 run, routinely beating the Falcons’ full-court press up the floor for easy buckets, but Health Sciences fought back to within one, 10-9, with 3:35 left in the opening frame. However, a 6-3 spurt put Fredonia up 16-12 heading into the second quarter.

“I thought we’d have trouble with the press early on, then settle in,” Lauer said. “But we handled it pretty well to begin the first half and we did everything we wanted to do. Then, in the second half, we started to play, I think, to just hold the lead, rather than increase the lead.”

Fredonia opened the second quarter on an 8-2 run to build its lead to 24-14 on seven points from Moore. A 5-2 run brought the Falcons to within five, 24-19, with 2:24 left before the break, but the Hillbillies scored the final eight points of the first half for their 32-19 halftime lead.

After a 3-pointer by Moore to open the third quarter gave Fredonia a 35-19 lead, Health Sciences began to slow down the Hillbillies’ offense little by little, but still found themselves down 11, 41-30, entering the fourth quarter.

In the fourth, the Falcons picked up their defense even more, and began to creep even closer to the Hillbillies’ lead, as Tyron Lott and Jaylen Prophet combined to score 10 points and draw Health Sciences to within five, 45-40, with just over three minutes to play.

“The press,” Lauer said of what Health Sciences was able to do defensively in the second half to slow down the Hillbillies’ offense. “We started to panic and we did exactly what we didn’t want to do. They want you to rush shots and we did it. We rushed shots, or we turned it over, or got bad looks. Finally, in the last four minutes, we started to settle down and keep our composure and we were able to execute there, at the end.”

Fredonia scored just seven points over the game’s final 3:30 — all by Moore — but it was enough to hold off Health Sciences, which ended up outscoring the Hillbillies, 29-20, in the third and fourth quarters.

“I told Pat before the game, ‘you owe us one here,'” Lauer said. “Because the last couple years he has a total of one point in the championship game, but he gave it to us (Saturday). He brought us home a championship, he played like a true leader (Saturday) and I was very pleased with what he did.”

The Hillbillies played their normal effective brand of defense that Saturday afternoon, something Lauer knew they’d have to do to stop the high-octane offense of the Falcons.

“These guys averaged 73 points a game and we held them to 48 points,” Lauer said. “And that’s exactly where we (wanted) to have them and it was enough to get us over the hump.”

A big part of the game plan centered on Prophet and Lott, who had led the Falcons in scoring all season long with 15 points per game each.

“We wanted to stop (Jaylen) Prophet,” Lauer said. “He’s a tough guy going to the basket and certainly Lott, who’s another guy that can score and is a very strong attack guy going to the basket. But I think we did a good job of getting them in some foul trouble and keeping them off edge and frustrated defensively.”

The Hillbillies moved to face the Olean Huskies, who are not only the top seed in Class B-1, but also the No. 1 Class B team in the state. But Fredonia will not be intimidated by Olean, a team they know well — the Hillbillies lost to the Huskies twice last year, but only by a combined seven points, including a 64-62 overtime loss on Feb. 5.

“Certainly we know a lot more about Olean and we’d love to see them again,” Lauer said prior to the Huskies’ game against the Blue Devils. “I’m not going to say we want to shy away from a team that’s beat us twice, because it’s just a great atmosphere, a great game to play when we’re playing (Olean). But I would welcome any team to play (at Buffalo State).”

Although Fredonia played Olean tough in the overall Class B final, the Huskies prevailed, 54-45, to move onto the NYSPHSAA Class B Far West Regional. Olean eventually went on to win the state title.

NOTES: Moore added seven rebounds and five blocked shots to go with his 29 points … Burmaster finished with seven points, six assists and five steals … After scoring 21 points and hauling down 16 rebounds in Fredonia’s win over Roy-Hart on Wednesday (Feb. 24), Michael Pucci had just four points on Saturday, but still brought down double-digit rebounds, finishing with 10 … Eric Swoyer chipped in four points in the win while Jovany Ruiz had six points … Lott led the Falcons with 11 points while Prophet finished with nine points … Kam Rashada had 10 points in the loss for Health Sciences.

6) FSU women win first home playoff game

Playoff atmosphere. Overtime. Long threes. Comebacks. The 1,000-point Club. Tuesday’s (Feb. 23) women’s basketball had everything, including a Fredonia victory as the Blue Devils claimed an 89-81 victory over visiting Brockport.

Sabrina Macaulay scored a career-high 33 points and joined the 1,000-Point club to lead Fredonia. Throw in six blocks, four assists and nine rebounds, and its safe to say she turned in a solid effort.

Alexis Cheatham also turned in a clutch performance. After going 0-for-4 from beyond the arc in the first half, Cheatham nailed a trio of deep threes in the second half to finish with 19 points. She also went 6-for-6 from the line in the final 1:40 of overtime and added seven assists and a pair of steals to help clinch the win.

Jacque Law turned in a 15-point, nine-rebound performance. Jenna Einink (Westfield/Chautauqua Lake) and Kathryn Halloran (Angola/Immaculata) finished with eight points apiece, with Halloran tying for the team lead with nine rebounds.

As a team, the Fredonia defense had 12 blocked shots.

Brockport was led by Faith Welch with 23 points and five assists, and Hannah Spencer with 14 points. Olivia Suhr finished with 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

The teams traded leads early on. Then with Fredonia up 13-11, Brockport closed the first quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 21-15 lead. They scored the final eight points on a pair of threes and a layup.

The second quarter saw Brockport keep the pressure on. They would lead by as many as 10 points on four occasions in the quarter, and would go ahead 45-36 at halftime. The Golden Eagles shot a blistering 57.6 percent from the field, including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc compared to 3 of 13 by the Blue Devils. The Brockport long-range output included a pair of threes by Hannah Spencer, who had 10 points at the break, and a left-handed desperation hook by Faith Welch just before the first-half buzzer. Macaulay had 13 to lead Fredonia.

Things changed quickly in the third quarter.

Fredonia outscored Brockport 21-4 in that frame. Halloran opened the third with a jumper. Brockport scored the next two field goals to go up 11 points, 49-38 — its largest lead of the game.

From there the Devils rattled off a 19-0 run. Halloran nailed a layup, followed by a pair of buckets by Macaulay. Law scored the next three with a field goal and free throw. Macaulay tied the game at 49-all with another close-range shot. Cheatham then hit a long three to give Fredonia its first lead since the 2:41 mark of the first quarter when they led 15-13.

Macaulay put the Devils up five, 54-49, with a layup on the next possession. Cheatham kept the momentum rolling with another long three just inside the buzzer to give the Devils a 57-49 lead heading into the final quarter.

During the 19-0 run, Brockport would shoot 0-for-10 from the field, go 0-for-4 from the line and turn the ball over three times. During the same stretch, Fredonia shot eight for 12 from the floor.

Brockport opened the fourth quarter with a pair of layups by Hannah Rehbaum to make it a four-point game, 57-53.

With 3:59 left to play, Einink nailed a three that appeared to put away the Golden Eagles as the Devils took a 72-63 lead. Brockport then went on an 8-1 run to pull within two points, 73-71.

The Devils nursed a six-point lead with just over a minute left in regulation. Brockport would score the final six points to send it to overtime. Welch was fouled shooting a three-point attempt, and hit all three of her free throws. Rehbaum hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to tie the game at 77.

Midway through the overtime, Fredonia led 82-81. Law then converted a one of two free throw attempts. The Blue Devil defense held Brockport scoreless from there on, while getting its final six points courtesy of Cheatham’s free throws.

Throughout the game, Brockport was plagued by foul trouble. Suhr and Erin Cunningham each had three fouls in the first half. By game’s end, Schyler Laux fouled out, and Welch, Rehbaum and Suhr saw their minutes limited with four fouls each.

For the game, Fredonia was 26 of 34 from the line, compared to Brockport’s 11 of 18. Brockport shot 42 percent from the floor, while the Devils hit 38 percent. Both teams had 41 rebounds. Brockport was 10 of 17 from beyond the arc, while Fredonia was seven of 24.

Brockport finishes its season with a 13-13 mark.

Fredonia downed Brockport for the third time in the 2015-16 season, and moved to 19-7 overall. The Blue Devils traveled to New Paltz on Friday, Feb. 26, where they fell to No. 2 Geneseo, 71-41, ending a most historic season for the program.

7) FSU men host and win first home playoff game in program history

Sam Greco scored the decisive goal in the sixth shootout round to send Fredonia past Plattsburgh and into the semifinals of the SUNYAC Men’s Soccer Tournament.

Seconds earlier, freshman goalkeeper Ty Bentham stopped Plattsburgh’s Connor Nembach to keep the shootout tied at 4-4 and set the stage for the senior Greco.

Ryan Keller, Brian Theuerkauf, Bryan Sibble, and Jimmy Ritchie also had successful shootout kicks for the Blue Devils.

Alex Price, Chris Robertson, John Latouche, and Sean Marusczak connected for the Cardinals. Patrick Feeley was in the net.

The game is recorded as a 0-0 tie and left Fredonia with a record of 11-6-2. Plattsburgh departed at 12-5-2.

Bentham made nine saves and Feeley three during regulation and overtime periods. The teams traded scoring chances, with the Blue Devils holding a territorial advantage and a 5-0 advantage in corner kicks in the first half. The Cardinals picked up the pace and held the advantage during the second half as Bentham was called on to make a handful of difficult stops. He faced 20 shots total to 12 shots for Blue Devils.

The Cardinals gained the first advantage in the shootout — initially set to go five rounds — when Price scored and Fredonia’s Brandon Butts clanged his shot off the crossbar.

The Blue Devils pulled even in the third round, 2-2, when Plattsburgh’s Jon Cabeca banged one off iron and Theuerkauf countered with a successful kick.

The teams traded successful kicks in rounds four and five. In the first extra round, Bentham broke the ice with a diving stop on a shot by Nembach. Greco’s game-winner followed and set off a wild celebration along the Fredonia sideline and in the stands.

Fredonia advanced to play the Oneonta Red Dragons on Wednesday, Nov. 2, where it fell 4-0, as Witman Hernandez tallied three second-half goals. The Blue Devils had been hoping to move to 2-0 against the Red Dragons on the year, but missed their chance to advance to the SUNYAC Final.

It was the first SUNYAC men’s tournament game at University Stadium and the Blue Devils first playoff game since a 1-0 loss to Brockport in 2010.

8) Gowanda captures first league title since 1984

GOWANDA – Before the season began, Gowanda coach Andy Bobseine predicted his team would do something no other Panther team had done since the  1983-84 season — win the league title.

Following Tuesday’s (Feb. 9) 50-45 victory over the Silver Creek Black Knights, that prediction came to fruition as Gowanda (17-3, 9-1) won the CCAA East 1 crown.

“Senior leadership and our ability to protect the ball,” Bobseine said when asked what the keys to success have been this season. “All season long we knew it would be tight games, but that work ethic in practice and attention to detail and our ability to execute when times were tough paid off.”

The most impressive part of Tuesday’s win was the fact it was able to slow down the Black Knights offense, as it scored just two points in the opening quarter as Gowanda held a 7-2 lead after eight minutes. The Panthers maintained that five-point lead into halftime, up 21-16. The home team extended the lead, 39-31 by the end of the third quarter. Silver Creek outscored Gowanda, 14-11, in the final eight minutes, but could not overcome the deficit.

“No one got a run,” Bobseine said. “There was never a run by either team. It was just a battle. Everyone played a role. It wasn’t shooting that won the game. We have been in tight situations all year and we have been able to close every time.”

Nate Brawdy led the way for the Panthers with 22 points. Dakota Perdue had 14 rebounds for the winners.

Silver Creek was led by Trevon Thompson’s 12 points and Chris Williams’ 11 points.

9) Stokes places fifth, Moreland takes eighth in state finals

CICERO — Fredonia’s Gwen Stokes did not have her best performance, but she was able to find a place on the podium as she took fifth place Saturday in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association track and field championships.

Stokes, who has cleared 5-feet-3 inches in the past, cleared 5-0 Saturday.

“The morning started out with rain and cold,” Fredonia coach Mike Marshall explained. “We were supposed to start at 10 a.m., but had a lightning delay. The sun came out towards the end, around 12:30 p.m. It was cool and damp conditions. They had to get rain water off the jump area.”

“Waking up with it pouring rain in Cicero and the ambiance of being there and the routine was different,” Marshall added. “It effects all the athletes. I think she did very good coming home with a medal. For a senior to compete in two state events (indoor track and outdoor track), it’s a great accomplishment. She is going to Houghton College and she will have a good career there.

Dunkirk’s Savia Moreland placed eighth in the Division 2 finals in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of :16.5.

“Hurdles is a race of perfection and any minor slip can cost a race, this unfortunately was one of those days,” Dunkirk coach Adam Woelfle said. “Neither of us can be upset about the race, those things are bound to happen at some point. It’s just unfortunate that it happened (Saturday). But up until this point, she has been perfect and that was proven just by her getting to this point. It’s also not the end of her career as she has four years of running at the collegiate level ahead of her. I’m very proud of her and all her accomplishments this season, as are her family and teachers who all were so encouraging all season. It was great to continue to take Dunkirk athletes to compete at this state level.”

10) Kruszka takes ninth at NYSPHSAA championships

CHENANGO VALLEY — Three local runners competed at Saturday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association 2016 Championships and leading the way among those runners was Gowanda’s Matt Kruszka.

Kruszka finished ninth in the boys Class C race, traversing the 3.1-mile Chenango Valley State Park course in a time of 16:37. Saturday (Nov. 12) was Kruszka’s fourth-straight trip to the NYSPHSAA Championships.

Also competing in the boys Class C race was Fredonia’s Mike Meredith, who finished 45th with a time of 17:30. Unable to properly train for most of the season due to injury, Meredith gutted his way to the state race and put up an impressive time despite being physically limited.

“He ran a great race,” Fredonia coach Carol Zirkle said. “He had a strategy going in and he started slower, but passed about 50 runners before he was done. He knew it was hilly throughout the second half of the course so he didn’t want to start too fast. He ran his race and got great results.

“What he has accomplished this year has been amazing. He did zero speed work, one hills session and a couple distance practices all year. Most of his training was done on a bike or in the pool. He had leg issues all season and even missed some races. Not being able to properly train and still being able to run 17:30 is an incredible feat. He is a very good leader and will be greatly missed next year.”

On the girls’ side, Silver Creek’s Emma Seiders placed 30th at 20:22. Seiders, who is no stranger to the state championship race, was making her fifth appearance at states on Saturday.

“Emma ran a very nice race with approximately 6:40 mile splits,” Silver Creek coach Mike Janisch said. “She had a very consistent run, which has been the hallmark of her season and her career. The course conditions were gorgeous at about 34 degrees, bright and sunny with no wind.

“She’s a class act. No matter how you look at it. She has been a very important runner for us over the past five years. Her work ethic and consistency are tremendous. Someone else will have to step up into her shoes for us to be the successful team we have been the last few years.”

Gowanda coach Pete Palmer could not be reached for comment.

OBSERVER File Photo Gowanda's Nate Brawdy brings the ball up court during a January 2016 matchup against the Silver Creek Black Knights.