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Eden girls soccer makes program history, to play Saturday (Nov. 3) in final against Akron

Emily Carias and Eden have advanced to the Class B semifinals, a program first. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Raiders going for first sectional title

Jill Keller thought this would be a special season for her Eden squad and while she’s been right on, the playoffs have brought their share of tense moments that no coach could have predicted.

This is the farthest Raiders’ girls soccer has ever gotten in the playoffs and the ride there couldn’t have been much more exciting.

The latest excitement came from a 1-0 win over Tonawanda on Wednesday (Oct. 31) in the Class B semifinals at Amherst. Senior Erin Dix scored the game's lone goal and goalkeeper Courtney Cross recorded the shutout for the Raiders. The upstart ninth-seeded Eden will take on Akron on Saturday (Nov. 3) at Amherst.

It was the first time in three tries this year that Eden beat Tonawanda and it sends the Raiders to the first sectional title game in program history. While Tonawanda had taken the season series 2-0, Eden lost only 1-0 in a tight game the second time they met, giving Keller and her players confidence going into the match.

“My girls are looking to avenge that loss,” Keller said beforehand. “The team is pumped and has a gameplan in place. It should be a very aggressive and hard-fought game.”

It took two halves, two 10 minutes overtimes, another two five-minute extra sessions and then seven penalty shots each before Eden beat host Falconer in the Class B pre-quarterfinals on Oct. 23.

Two days later, Eden survived a 1-0 win at top-seeded City Honors at Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium in Buffalo to move on to the sectional semifinals for the first time in program history.

Melanie Hoffman scored the game-winner on Eden’s seventh penalty kick and Cross stopped three penalty shots in a game that was tied 2-2 after regulation. Catherine Mammoser and Marit Mellemseter scored for the Raiders, both with an assist from Hannah Zittel.

Eden and No. 8 Falconer went at it for 110 minutes and a round of the first five penalty kickers without the game being decided. Both coaches picked five more kickers and Eden won it on the seventh shooter.

Keller prepared her team in anticipation of being in such a game. Two years ago, the Raiders lost a tough early-round playoff game in penalty kicks after an outstanding regular season. This season, Eden enjoyed another big regular season and Keller didn’t want to see it end early.

“We had been practicing penalty kicks for the past week, and I had my top shooters picked ahead of time,” she noted.

Still tired from the game at Falconer in the next round, Eden produced a number of scoring opportunities but couldn’t cash in until Siera Puckhaber deposited a pass from Mammoser. Eden’s central midfielders Emily Carias and Zittel, along with Mammoser, had played all 110 minutes without subbing against Falconer.

Keller also used eighth grade defender Morgan Keppler to shadow Molly Petrucci, City Honor’s 50 goal scorer, and she held her in check. “Morgan shut her down,” Keller noted. “Petrucci was frustrated.”

Also helping Eden move forward in the playoffs have been outside midfielder Alicia Roistacher and defenders Kathryn Villar and Jenny Morrow, according to Keller. She also noted that forward Callie Abram has helped rally the team when on the field.


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