Weekly Feature

2017-11-09 / Sports

EA boys soccer falls in ‘A’ Far West Regional

Blue Devils reach state quarterfinal following unbeliebable OT win over Grand Island

East Aurora’s bid for an undefeated boys soccer season came to an end Friday when Pittsford-Sutherland handed the Blue Devils their first and only loss of the season, 3-1, in a game played at Spencerport High School.

The Blue Devils’ setback came just 48 hours after East Aurora had earned its spot in the Class A Far West Regional with what coach Kevin Beale called “one of the most dramatic wins of all time” in the Section VI Class A crossover with Grand Island.

Senior Collan Zimmerman notched the lone goal against Pittsford-Sutherland close to the 80-minute mark following a shot by Bryce Schiltz. The Blue Devils finished the game with six shots on net, half of what Pittsford-Sutherland fired on their net over the course of the contest.

Pittsford-Sutherland, which claimed its first Section V title in a few years with an upset win – in a penalty-kick shootout – over top-ranked Brockport, took control of the game in the second half, netting three straight goals before Zimmerman’s third goal of the season broke the shutout.

"I don’t know if we ran out of gas after Wednesday’s game, but it was difficult,” Beale said of the Far West Regional. “We knew what was at stake and being motivated for states get you pumped, but I have to think we needed one more day of rest to really be at our best.”

The Blue Devils advanced to the Far West Regional round after pulling off a 4-3 overtime thriller against Grand Island on Nov. 1. Schiltz opened the scoring at the seven-minute mark after hitting a bending shot that found the far right post for the half's only tally.

“At halftime we did the typical talk about how big the next goal would be for either team,” Beale said. “Looking back now, I don’t think anyone thought we would see six more goals before we were done.”

The next goal that Beale was alluding to during his halftime speech to his players came just a minute into the second half, when Viking forward David Bilek notched his first of two goals to even the game up with essentially an entire half yet to play. Schiltz earned his second goal of the night to square things up seven minutes later when junior Alex Baase's long throw-in was headed forward by senior David Klinck, leaving Schiltz one-on-one with his defender. Schiltz ultimately slid a shot past Grand Island’s rushing goalie to give East Aurora the lead once again, 2-1.

Bilek’s second goal snuck past a diving Dan Philips, however, and found the good side of the far post to tie the game back up at 2-2 in the 65th minute.

As the clocked ticked down the final 15 minutes it appeared the contest would be decided in overtime. However, with less than a minute remaining in regulation, Bilek found forward John Griffin running down the right side. Griffin was able to fire a shot that deflected off an East Aurora player and past a helpless Philips – who could not adjust from his initial dive to his left – to give Grand Island its first lead of the game, 3-2, with just 30 seconds to play.

“It felt devastating, seeing the kids on the ground in disbelief, knowing there’s virtually no time left,” said Beale, who thought his squad was about to witness Grand Island win its third consecutive Class A title. “I was thinking about what to say to the guys once the game was over. But that’s when Dan [Philips] got the ball and got everyone up, so that had me thinking ‘there’s always hope.’”

Schiltz and senior Jack Bean kept the ball themselves off the ensuing kickoff and, with what looked to be a loose ball for the Vikings to clear, junior Johnny Putney’s challenge earned a free kick from 33 yards out with 13 seconds left. With all players in the box, Bean played a perfect ball in and Philips got free from his defender, giving him the room to head Bean’s serve past a stunned Grand Island goalie to send the game to overtime.

With time running down in the first extra session, Baase delivered a long throw-in and an attempted Grand Island clearance got deflected towards the Vikings’ goal box. Bean found the ball, took the left defender wide and, with a charging goalie rushing at him, chipped a lofted shot for the game winner with 45 seconds left to give East Aurora its sixth sectional title in the last seven years – three of which came as a Class A school.

“I can honestly say I have never been a part of any game like that,” Beale said. “It was just unbelievable, but I have to give our kids credit; they went back and forth and just kept going, even after we lost a couple of players to injury. It was great to see guys like Jack, Bryce and the Philips boys, once again come up huge for us as they have for quite some time.

The Blue Devils, who became this year just the fourth team in program history to achieve 20 wins in a season, loses Dan and Pat Philips, Klinck, Zimmerman, Bean, Schiltz, Alex George, Matt Lucyshyn, Alex Lutz, Jason Rose and Denny Ryan to graduation off a squad that finished the year ranked eighth in the state’s Class A polls.

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