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North Collins back in final, against Ellicottville

SLIDE FOR THE BALL — Chris Pulinski and North Collins will play for a Class D title against Ellicottville on Friday. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
A familiar sectional final will be coming to a local soccer field. North Collins and Ellicottville will renew its Class D rivalry in boys soccer for a fifth consecutive season, when the two square off on Friday, Nov. 1 at Hamburg.

Though North Collins has won all four times, it has never been easy, as the 2009 game was won in overtime, 200 and ‘11 in penalty kicks and last year in a 1 – 0 game.

Although the top-seeded Eagles may have had a better season than Ellicottville, Eagles coach Jay Walters said he is expecting a similar game to that played during the past four years. He credited Ellicottvile with being more athletic and having a dangerous scorer in Connor Green.

“These things are always full of drama,” said Walters, leading a program going for a 25th sectional title. “If we don’t have 11 guys show up, we don’t play well. It happened in our last game.”

Even though North Collins won its semifinal 4 – 0 against Pine Valley last week, Walters said his team was challenged by the nerves of playing on the big stage at Dunkirk. Scoreless through the first half of play, North Collins did not get onto the scoreboard until assistant coach Rob Catalino encouraged a few substitutions.

Exchange student Ahmed Ellethy got into the game and scored twice, while junior David Lynch added 2 more goals. Walters said his team got what it needed, even if it was in an unconventional manner.

‘Our biggest challenge may have been met when we under-performed at Dunkirk,” he said. “It was a big stage and with all of the ceremonies, hopefully we got the jitters resolved. It will be good to have four days of practice, before trying to handle Ellicottville.”

Elsewhere locally, Lake Shore earned a playoff victory to advance to the semifinals for the first time in 17 years, but fell to defending sectional champion Riverside, the No. 2 seed 5 – 0, on Oct. 26 at Hamburg. The Eagles finish the season 10 – 6 – 1 after taking second in Erie County Interscholastic Conference III, with a 7 – 4 – 1 mark.

Lake Shore beat Lew-Port 3 – 0 in the quarterfinals, behind 2 goals from senior Wade Bergum and one from his younger brother, A.J. Bergum. Senior Bryce Parker-Norton earned the shutout in goal, while Max Eastman, Kenny Pierce and Chris Beckley each earned assists. Bergum ended his varsity career with a school-record 57 goals.

Frontier, Hamburg and Eden all advanced to the sectional quarterfinals, before bowing out.

Sixth-seeded Frontier fell 2 – 1 to No. 3 Niagara Wheatfield on Oct. 23, after defeating Niagara Falls 9 – 0, in a first round victory. The Falcons finished 10 – 7 overall, after a 6 – 6 ECIC I season.

Hamburg, a sixth seed, lost 2 – 0 to No. 3 Sweet Home on Oct. 23, after a 2 – 1 overtime victory against Iroquois in the pre-quarterfinal round. The Bulldogs finish the season 9 – 6 – 3 after a 5 – 4 – 3 ECIC II season.

The seventh-seed Eden dropped a 4 – 0 decision to No. 2 Medina/Lyndonville on Oct. 24, which followed a 4 – 0 victory against Tonawanda in the opening round. The Raiders finished the season 7 – 7, after a 4 – 6 mark in ECIC IV play. In its playoff win, Eden got 2 goals from Brandon Gallman and a goal and two assists from Henry Ohmit. Anthony Sinnott added a goal.

St. Francis finished 9 – 10 and began Monsignor Martin playoff action, on Oct. 30, as the three seed against No. 2 Nichols in the semifinals. The Red Raiders lost to Nichols all three times the teams played in the regular season, but every time by one goal. With a win Wednesday, they would have moved on to play in the final on Sunday, Nov. 3. All nine of St. Francis’ league games were determined by one goal. They also dropped three one-goal games to top-seed Canisius and won three one-goal games, two in overtime, against fourth-seed St. Joe’s.
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