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Immaculata advances to soccer final Sunday

When Jeff Aau heard his seniors Monica Schaffstal and Emma Lipinski and sophomore Alyssa Choboy address the Immaculata soccer team they captain, he said they spoke about not letting another opportunity to win a title slip through its hands.

Last year, the Bears pulled a semifinal upset to reach the Monsignor Martin small school final, but fell there, to Christian Central. This year, Imamculata is back in the final and this time as the top seed in the draw. The Bears beat Niagara Catholic 8 – 0 in the semifinals to reach the championship game against St. Mary’s at 10 a.m. on Nov. 3 at Niagara University.

The team’s head coach said that he has been counting on the leadership of his three captains all season, and he believes that their words will resonate with the group.

“They told the girls, ‘We were here last year and we don’t want to wind up being in the same position [in the end],’” Aau said. “They’ve pulled everyone together and given 110 percent, all season. Especially for the seniors, they want to win it. It’s their last year before going out and they want to make it special.”

Midfielders Schaffstall and Lipinski have been starters since Aau arrived to coach the team, three years ago, while Choboy is a returning starter on defense.

“Our captains have been strong on the field, not only as leaders, but by example,” he said. “They’ve been the best I’ve had. They’ve grown and matured together. When we need something, they’re always there.”

Senior Stephanie Busha and sophomore Kristen Kline have been strong for Immaculata up front, as each have accounted for nearly 20 goals. Busha scored three times in the semifinal, while Kline added a tally.

Also in that win, Lipinski recorded 2 goals, and freshman Kiley Austin, who Aau said has been strong with the ball, and Schaffstall each found the back of the net once. Senior RayAnn Call and junior Megan Ott combined for the shutout in net.

Aau also credited freshmen Allison Busha and Courtney Kline for their strong defensive play. Both are the younger sisters of players on the team and aid an underclassmen-laden defense. Also among the five seniors on the team is midfielder Abby Wind.

Despite being youthful, Aau said that he likes that the group communicates and works well together. He also has quite a bit of depth this season, allowing him to go to his bench with confidence, when needed, he said, adding that he has stressed keeping the ball on the ground, rather than in the air.

“We’ve been working the ball around well – finding each other’s feet, and not always playing the long ball,” Aua noted.

Immaculata defeated St. Mary’s twice in the regular season, but after winning, the two played a 2 – 1 game the second time around.

“Every game seems to be different,” Aau said. “It was a good battle in our second game [against St. Mary’s]. They’re a good team and well coached.”

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