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High School Boys Soccer: Keppel’s OT winner gives N. Collins rare win over Maple Grove

Sophomore Chris Pulinski tries to start the North Collins offense down field in the Eagles 1-0 win over Maple Grove.

The third golden opportunity in overtime turned out to be the charm for Jared Keppel in a big victory for the North Collins soccer program.

After Keppel fired two shots right at the Maple Grove keeper as he made a pair of runs in close to the goal in the extra sessions, the senior finished on a loose ball in the middle of the box to stake North Collins to a 1-0 double overtime win.

The win moved the Eagles into a first-place tie with Maple Grove in CCAA Division III and marked the first time in a while that they beat the Class C power. In improving to 10-1 overall and 9-1 in division play, North Collins also avenged its only loss of the season, which came at the hands of Maple Grove, 3-0.

“We didn’t give them a lot of space and time to set up,” North Collins head coach Jay Walters said. “It wasn’t the prettiest of soccer games, but there was a lot of heart and hustle and when it came to it, some good goaltending on both sides. And we had a feeling like Keppel was going to get one.”

“I think that we were ina little better shape and handled the overtime with a little more enthusiasm, which is kind of a home team advantage (considering the bagage of a long road trip). It was a big win,” he added.

Keppel said between soccer and basketball, North Collins had done too much losing to Maple Grove to let this opportunity slip away.

“I figured one was either going to come to me or someone else on the team,” Keppel said of the game-winning goal. “It’s an important win because it puts us at the top of the division and for the first time in a couple of years, we’re at least tied with them.”

“I’m glad to beat Maple Grove. It’s been a long time. They just tend to beat us all the time in soccer and basketball,” he added.

Keppel’s team-leading ninth goal was the result of the work done by him and senior teammate Todd Youngman to free up the ball in front.

Just minutes earlier in the beginning of the second overtime, Zane Lloyd sprung Keppel on a rush. Kepepl headed the ball to himself and manuevered past a defender to create the opportunity. In the first overtime, Keppel took a throw in and made a rush to the goal, getting off a good shot.

Freshman Jake Jasinski gave North Collins a spark sliding up the field from his defensive position and Jordan Keough helped stiffen the midfield, acording to Walters. The coach also noted that his outside midfielders Connor Renaldo and Cody Feltz gave everything they could and were exhausted by game’s end.

The shutout went to sophomore Kyle Loretto, who was good when he had to be for the Eagles. Walters was happy that his defensive unit did not allow Maple Grove any significant time or opportunity toward the North Collins goal. The Eagles were able to break a very discplined and affective system used by Maple Grove.

“Maple Grove is great for a reason and part of that is we know they’re going to try to triangle and switch fields and then triangle and switch fields and that didn’t happen tonight and that may have been the difference,” Walters noted.

Walters and his assistant, Robbie Catalino, felt as though the Eagles have gotten better every game since being dealt that setback at Maple Grove. The Eagles also played that game evenly but according to Walters, “fell to pieces for about nine minutes in the first half,” which made all the difference.

“Coach Cat said it best after the game ­ — we’re proud of the fact that over the last five games they’ve improved meaurably every game,” Walters said. “We’re happy we’re jelling. We’re not a scoring team, you could tell that, but we can control the ball in that neutral third, which is so important in this game.”

The Eagles have four games remaining in the regular season, among them a rematch of the Class D final with Ellicotville on Thursday, Oct. 11 and non-league matches with locals Eden (Oct. 20) and St. Francis (Oct. 26).

“Everyday someone is getting better on the field no matter what we’re doing,” Keppel added.

North Collins pulled out a 3-2 win the first time it met Eden on Sept. 29. After John Bley’s second goal of the game put Eden up 2-1, Garret Martin tied the game with 20 minutes left and Keppel delivered the game-winner with under three minutes to play. Youngman had opened the scoring.

At the Super Monday Nichols Tournament on Columbus Day (Oct. 8), St. Francis played Orchard Park to a scoreless draw after two overtimes. Matthew Gabalski turned away two shots to earn his third shutout in goal. Jason Jablonski, Drew Bassini and Brennan Macey played strong defense, while Patrick Schaefer, Sam Eggleston and Sean Cook all got good looks at the Orchard Park goal.

Also locally, Lake Shore may be enjoying one of the program’s best seasons in recent history, but the Eagles cannot leap the hurdle that is ECIC III front-runner East Aurora. Lake Shore lost for only the second time this season, both at the hands of East Aurora, this time by a 7-0 score on Oct. 4. Despite the losing effort, goalkeeper Bryce Parker-Norton turned away 18 shots as he was consistently tested. Five days later, Lake Shore tied Maryvale 1-1 and is now 10-2-1.

On Oct. 2, Lake Shore defeated Springville 6-0. Junior captain Wade Bergum scored four goals and assisted on another to bring his league-leading total to 27 goals on the season. Kenny Budziszewski scored his first goal of the season and also added an assist, while Shaun Duffey scored the other Eagles’ goal. Parker-Norton recorded the shutout.

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