Let the games begin!

Black Knights, Wolverines among area teams to earn home playoff games

OBSERVER File Photo Fredonia’s Liam Jones (22) challenges for the ball during a regular season game earlier this year.

The most exciting time of the year for high school sports is approaching this week. Saturday, the postseason seeding meetings took place for both boys and girls soccer, while football seeders meet today and volleyball enters its final week of the regular season this week.

Many coaches in the area would agree that the Southern Tier is a hotbed for high school soccer talent. The postseason seedings reflect that, as many local teams earned favorable seeds in the playoffs.

The Silver Creek/Forestville and Westfield/Brocton girls soccer teams each earned home playoff games this week, to take place on Wednesday afternoon, while the Fredonia Lady ‘Billies earned a home game under the lights of SUNY Fredonia on Friday night. For boys soccer, the teams awarded home playoff games were Fredonia and Westfield/Brocton.

The Silver Creek/Forestville Black Knights finished the year with a 13-3 record, good for the No. 5 seed in Class C after losing a tiebreaker to Frewsburg on a draw of a name out of a hat. Coach Kevin Rice’s team will host Cattaraugus/Little Valley on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Though the Black Knights come in as heavy favorites, Coach Rice is not looking past anyone.

“It’s a sectional tournament, anything can happen,” said Coach Rice. “It’s a brand new season.” Despite losing the tiebreaker, Coach Rice added, “It’s nice that we’re at home,” for the first game of the postseason.

OBSERVER File Photo Westfield/Brocton’s Josh Heim (4 in blue) fights off a defender for possession during a game earlier this season.

Losing the tiebreaker not only hurt Silver Creek/Forestville in that the first round opponent has a better record on the season, it also means that if each team advances, Frewsburg would host the rubber match between the two division foes in the second round of the playoffs.

Silver Creek/Forestville has battled injuries all year, and the layoff between the regular season and the playoffs does not make a difference in the health of many key players for the Black Knights.

Senior captain Andrea Olsen, defender Kaitlyn Newman and starting goalkeeper Alina Beadle are all out for the season for Silver Creek/Forestville. Abby Rice has also missed the majority of the season with a torn labrum and her status for the postseason remains unclear.

“We’ve gotten a little healthier, but we’re certainly not going to get to 100 percent,” said Coach Rice.

Freshman goalkeeper Tessa Karcz will get the nod in goal for the Black Knights.

OBSERVER File Photo Silver Creek/Forestville’s Malani Eldridge (6 in white) battles for possession with Dunkirk’s Yuribeth Castro (5 in maroon) during a game earlier this year.

“I know she’ll give the best she can,” said Coach Rice. “But it boils down to my girls up front.”

Silver Creek/Forestville is led offensively by four girls with 27-28 points this season — Emma Rice, Chloe Barrett, Jade Bouvier and Jaylah Cossin, who leads the team with 28 points. Carly Barrett is next on the team with 13 points.

“Our success will be determined by Emma, Chloe, Carly, Jade and Jaylah,” said Coach Rice. “I have a lot of team scoring. I don’t have a Laural Erick (of Fredonia) who I can rely on to score two or three goals a game. I have a balanced team, where any one of them could step up and score a goal.”

Silver Creek/Forestville has overcome injuries to get to the playoffs. Now with the luck of the draw against them, there is just another chip on the shoulder of the Black Knights.

The Westfield/Brocton Lady Wolverines (No. 7 seed Class C) came into the season without a lot of key names from last year’s team, but that didn’t hold Neil Huber’s girls back from reaching the same spot they reached last season.

“This group of girls, they’re dedicated. They come prepared to work every day,” said Coach Huber.

Last season was the first home playoff game in seven years in Westfield. After a crushing defeat in double overtime last year, the goal for Westfield/Brocton is to come out on top of a home playoff game this time around.

“We’re pretty excited. I feel this season we earned a home playoff game,” said Huber. “The girls I have back are determined to not let last year happen again.”

Huber feels his team is better prepared for success this time around.

“We’re better prepared this year,” said Huber. “Being able to play sound, solid defense like we do this year gives us a chance to be in games like this.”

Westfield/Brocton’s opponent, Salamanca, reminds Huber of his team. He expects a tight matchup in Westfield at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Also notable, Dunkirk heads to Olean on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.

In boys soccer, Fredonia is the fifth seed and Dunkirk is the 11th seed in Class B-1.

The Hillbillies (6-2-2, 6-6-2), who finished tied for second place in CCAA West play, open up with a home game on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Fredonia State in the pre-quarterfinals against 12th-seeded Springville. The winner of that game advances to the quarterfinals on Oct. 18 against the winner of fourth-seeded Olean and 13th-seeded Charter School for Applied Technologies (CSAT) of the Buffalo Public Schools League.

In the same bracket, the Marauders will travel to play sixth-seeded Albion on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The winner of that game will face third-seeded Lackawanna on Oct. 18.

The top three seeds in Class B-1 are East Aurora, Tonawanda and Lackawanna. Semifinal games will be played on Oct. 20 at Tonawanda High School.

Westfield/Brocton, like Fredonia, hosts playoff games in both the boys and girls soccer sectional playoffs. The No. 2 seed in Class C, the Westfield/Brocton boys host Silver Creek/Forestville on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in Westfield.

With a record of 11-5 on the season, the Wolverines are led by Jason Almeter and Gabe Morello, each with nine goals on the season. Josh Heim and Darien Swanson each have eight assists to lead the Wolverines. Westfield/Brocton won both matchups on the regular season, most recently, a 5-1 win in Westfield to close out the regular season.

Needless to say, many local teams hope to build upon successful regular seasons with postseason success, as well. After the release of the postseason brackets, it’s clear to see that the teams in Chautauqua County are capable of big things.

Twitter: @bradencarmen

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