DON’T LET IT GET AWAY — Springville-Griffith Institute’s Dustin Emerson races a Pioneer player to the ball, during a recent game. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — The Springville-Griffith Institute boys varsity soccer team has been battling in games, all season long. The boys have played nine games that have been separated by 2 goals or fewer. On Oct. 9, Springville tied against Cheektowaga 0-0 in double overtime, after 100 minutes of play.
“[We] controlled most of the game and created a ton of chances, but could not finish,” said Springville coach Tom Szczerbacki. “We were passing and moving the ball well. The boys were strong on 50/50 balls, which helped us maintain pressure and attacked Cheektowaga, all game. We hit the posts five times and hit the post another time off a [penalty kick], late in the game.”
Providing most of Springville chances in the contest from their center mid positions were Owen Gow and AJ Fisher.
“Owen and AJ had real strong performances at center mid,” said Szczerbacki. “They controlled the middle of the field and distributed the ball very well and created many chances for the attack.”
After giving up 9 goals in games against Maryvale and Lake Shore, Springville locked down defensively and pitched the shutout for the first time this season. Szczerbacki added that putting senior standout Brandon Sullivan at stopper contributed to the defensive effort.
“I think putting Brandon back at stopper at times has helped,” added Szczerbacki. “Brandon can play any position for us. He communicates so well, settles the ball and creates from the back end, which the other guys on defense learn from and feed off.”
Springville traveled to Pioneer on Oct. 11, for a match. The game was scoreless through the first half, with Springville’s keeper Nolan Gills making a number of saves to keep the game scoreless.
However, 25 seconds into the second half, Pioneer struck with the game’s first goal. Minutes later, the Panthers would score again off a penalty kick. Springville’s Kevin Zabawa cut Pioneer’s lead to 2-1 with a goal late in the second half, but the Panthers held on for the 2-1 victory.
“Pioneer worked hard and was strong on the ball,” said Szczerbacki about the game.” We struggled offensively and did not have many opportunities. We only generated three shots, the entire game.”
Springville was outshot in the match, but Gills kept Springville in the game with some diving saves in the first and second halves. The 2-year starter in net has improved his play of late, according to Szczerbacki.
“Nolan played a great game for us and made some big saves,” said Szczerbacki, about his junior keeper. “He had good hands, taking good angles and being aggressive at the right times. His play has really improved and he is a big reason our goals against have dropped, the last few games.”
With the loss, Springville fell to 5-8-1, overall. After winning back-to-back games in mid-September, the Griffs have managed just one win, in their last seven games.
“The teams we face play hard and the level of play is pretty equal,” added Szczerbacki. “I think the injuries we suffered the last couple games has hurt us, defensively. We are not using that as an excuse but we need to tighten up defensively and work hard, as a team, which we always do.”
Springville played East Aurora on Oct. 16, to finish up their league schedule.