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High School Boys Soccer: Lake Shore works to get a step ahead of the competition

Wade Bergum has scored 22 goals in just nine games for 8-1 Lake Shore. (Photo by Jeff Barnes/Metro Source)

Lake Shore may not be used to the type of success its enjoying in boys soccer this season, but that doesn’t mean players aren’t staying level headed.

Once a program struggling to win games, the Eagles are the one dominating opponents these days, starting the season 8-1 while outscoring foes 32-9. Only perennial-Western New York power East Aurora has beaten Lake Shore and scored more than one goal on the Eagles, that coming in a 5-1 game.

“We’re excited about the start of the season but we know we have some work to do. We still want to fine tune our system and make sure we’re doing things right,” said third-year Lake Shore coach Paul Taylor. “They understand that while it’s a nice start, it’s really just preparation for sectionals, getting the best seed we can and then playing our best to make a run there.”

The Eagles latest win, a 4-0 decision over Cheektowaga on Sept. 20, provided a blue print for what’s gone right most of the season. While keeping opponents away from their own goal, the scoring continued to come from what has become a familiar place. Junior captain Wade Bergum scored three of the Eagles’ four goals, giving him 22 on the season, while younger brother, AJ, notched Lake Shore’s other goal, the freshman’s sixth of the season. The two lead the team in scoring. Senior Austin Smith chipped in two assists for the Eagles.

“We’ve got a good mix of everything on this team,” Taylor said. “Obviously, a lot of our scoring is coming from Wade with AJ chipping in.”

Taylor is confident in his goalkeeper Bryce Parker-Norton, who earned the shutout against Cheektowaga, but he’s also happy the junior has gone untested in many of the team’s games. He credits the central defense of senior leader Jon Weber, who’s just as good of a student, ranked No. 4 in the senior class.

“It’s a good group of defenseman, which I think sometimes doesn’t get enough credit,” Taylor noted.

Having a team with an overall high grade point average has translated to players understanding more sophisticated concepts on the field, as well. Also of note, senior midfielder Kade McGarrity is ranked No. 1 among the senior class.

Taylor also credits the amount of work being done by his players on travel and club teams and in working out in the offseason. The team began to reap the benefits of those efforts with an improved season last year, but it was nothing like what’s gone on for the Eagles in 2012.

“Even after some of our wins, the guys aren’t just content if we didn’t play as well of a game,” said Taylor, whose team next hosts Amherst on Thursday, Sept. 27. “We try to compare our performance to what we know is our potential.”

Also locally, St. Francis made it two wins in a row in league play, and again it took extra time to pull out a victory. The Red Raiders won a second Monsignor Martin Athletic Association overtime game in a matter of three days, beating Nichols 1-0 on Wednesday (Sept. 19). Sam Eggleston, who scored the game-winner in the Red Raiders’ 4-3 win over Canisius, scored the lone goal in beating Nichols on Sept. 19.

The game went scoreless through 80 minutes as sophomore goalkeeper Matthew Gabalski turned aside several quality chances by the Nichols’ offense. One shot did elude Gabalski but was cleared off the line by senior Drew Bassini. In overtime, it was all St. Francis, which pressured the Nichols’ net, resulting in a corner kick. Aaron Hayes sent the ball to an open Eggleston, who played hero in consecutive games.

After St. Francis goalkeeper Alex Davis had to leave the game when injured on a quality save, Gabalski came in to complete the shutout of Christian Central 3-0 two days later. Aaron Hayes opened the scoring on a feed from Eggleston. Tyler Eister finished off a rebound of a shot by Matthew Unger to give the Red Raiders a 2-0 halftime lead. Jason Jablonski converted a penalty kick to cap the scoring.

In addition locally, small schools Eden and North Collins are off to quick starts to the season. Eden is at 4-1-1 overall (3-1-1 in ECIC IV) after a 1-1 tie with Tonawanda on Sept. 20, while North Collins is 5-1 with recent wins including a 2-0 victory over Ellicottville on Sept. 18 in a Class D final rematch.

In the win over Ellicottville, Jared Keppel scored his team-leading fourth goal and what turned out to be the game winner just a minute into the contest. In tying Tonawanda, Jesse Dranger scored his fourth goal of the season in the game’s 75th minute to knot the score. Tied for the team lead with four goals is John Bley.

The two locals will meet Saturday, Sept. 29 at 11 a.m. in a non-league game at Eden.

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