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High School Girls Lacrosse: Hamburg pulls out OT win over gritty Frontier

Pictured above top, Hamburg’s Megan Mikolajek rushes up field while being defended by Frontier’s Molly Kacmarksi (left) and Megan Evancho. Directly above, Christina Heppner attempts to get to the goal as Hamburg’s Julia Higgins defends. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Girls lacrosse has turned into the highest level of competition collectively of any sport played between neighbors Hamburg and Frontier.

So, it should be no surprise that it took four overtimes to decide the lone game this season between Class A power Frontier and Class B defending sectional champion Hamburg.

With the rivalry bringing out the best in both teams, Hamburg, which led for most of the second half, scored the game-winner with 2:24 left in the fourth extra session — the second sudden death overtime, to pull out a 9-8 victory in a thriller on Thursday (May 8) at Howe Field.

Ironically, it happened to be a different rivalry that helped bring the best out of Hamburg. The Bulldogs were still sour from losing to another WNY-power Lancaster 17-16 in overtime a few weeks prior.

“I knew it would be a battle — it was two of the top teams in the Southtowns going at it,” Hamburg head coach Katy Ryan said of the rivalry game against Frontier. “We went to overtime with Lancaster and lost, so I told the girls to remember what that felt like. They had that in the back of their minds. They overcame Frontier’s comeback, which shows a lot of character.”

Jill Ford scored her fourth goal of the game, finding an opening in close to the net where she took a perfect feed from senior and good friend Taylor Wolf and finished it for the game-winner.

Wolf, one of WNY’s top scorers, drew a great deal of attention from the Frontier defense and was able to find Ford, a teammate also on the field hockey and basketball teams.

“I seem to do well on plays where I’m cutting and Taylor and I work well together,” said Ford, a junior. “She knows what passes to make and I was really open thee. It’s a credit to her. She’s got good eyes out there.”

Frontier overcame a 7-4 deficit early in the second half and then Hamburg’s 8-6 lead with under 10 minutes to play.

Both midfielders Hannah Christiansen and Hannah Lease scored three times apiece, while Jackie Dufresne netted the game-tying goal with 3:12 left in regulation. Senor goalie Emily Pasternak kept the game going in overtime with a pair of point blank saves in both the first and third overtimes.

“(Hamburg) has more weapons and my girls know that but the effort we gave show’s what kind of team we are,” said a proud Frontier head coach Tim Myslinski. “They gave a great collective effort on team defense and Emily made a lot of good saves. We stayed composed the whole game.

“In the grand scheme, it’s a loss and the girls are emotional but to come back against a talented and fantastically-coached team, shows a lot of grit from our girls,” he added.

The Bulldogs approach the playoffs next week with only that one blemish from this season. Class B’s top seed has taken on many of the best teams in WNY like Frontier and Nichols, along with Syracuse’s Auburn, and came out on top.

“I’m happy with a lot of these wins; Frontier and Nichols have been a great teams,” Ryan said. “They’re all tough games; that’s why we schedule them. We’re pretty excited down the stretch and thinking about the playoffs.”

After coming out of a back-and-forth first half tied at 4-4, Hamburg scored the first three in the second and after Frontier answered with two, Bulldogs’ freshman Claire Hermann notched her second of the game to stretch the lead back to two.

But Christiansen’s goal on a drive to the net with 8:38 left in the game was followed by Dufresne finding the back of the net on a free position shot to tie the score.

Adding goals for Hamburg were Wolf, Hallie Fiore and Kaley Reardon, while the Falcons also got a goal from Meg Evancho.

“Because we are so tough and aggressive, it can hurt us at times,” Myslinski said. “We have things to work on. Sometimes, we have trouble breaking out of the midfield.

“But this is what we are — grit and guts,” he added. “How can you be upset after watching this team give it their all.”

Frontier also has a major rival in Lancaster. The Falcons have gone 0-3 in playing the two teams but now has another positive to take from these games. They lost 7-6 the first time they met Lancaster.

“We’ve now got two huge rivals — Hamburg and us and Lancaster and us,” said Myslinski, whose team will be a second seed in the playoffs in Class A behind Lancaster. “They happen to be two of the best in Western New York. Even when we weren’t as good, because of how hard we’ve always played, people love to beat us.”

For a second straight season, this rivalry game also served as a fundraiser for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, in honor of Hamburg’s youngest teammates, Ellie Delucia and sister, Mara. Twelve-year-old Ellie has been battling childhood cancer since being diagnosed with Optic Pathway/Hypothalamic Glioma in June 2004.

“It was a huge game and we knew we had to win it for these two girls,” Ford said. “Everything we were doing tonight was for them. It’s a bonus that on the night we do this fundraiser we can come out on top.”

Elsewhere locally, Lake Shore held off a major challenge from East Aurora to pull out an 11-10 win on Monday (May 13) and finish Class C division play unbeaten.

The Eagles’ leading scorer Alie Jimerson scored four times, while younger sister, Jalyn Jimerson, added four more in the win. Lake Shore won its third division game by one goal, having beaten Amherst both times in tight games. The Eagles will be the top seed in Class C.
Kat Villar and Eden enjoyed a five win regular season. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Eden fell to Amherst 13-7 the same day in Class C action. The Raiders closed the regular season at 5-8, the young program’s best finish yet, which included three league wins, pitting them as the fourth or fifth seed in the six-team field.

Class B begins pre-quarterfinal play on Thursday, May 16. Hamburg will have a bye into the quarterfinals on Tuesday, May 21. Eden will also play in a playoff game that day, while Lake Shore and Frontier won’t get started until semifinal games two days later.

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