IN CONTROL — Amy Villarini worked the ball up field in Hamburg’s 3 – 3 tie with Nardin on Sept. 14. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Hamburg managed to escape a grueling week of games against perennially-powerful Williamsville girls soccer teams with a 5 – 5 tie against East and the stated belief that it can play right with first-place South, after a 2 – 1 loss.
Hamburg started the season winning its first four games, before coming from behind to tie Nardin 3 – 3 on Sept. 14, before entering last week’s stretch.
“The league is wide open,” Hamburg coach Tom Zugger said. “We play WIlliamsville South again and we don’t think, by any stretch of the imagination, that’s going to end the season for us. We really think that we have a really good chance to win the league and that’s what we intend on doing.”
Hamburg held a 1 – 0 lead against Williamsville South at home, before allowing two second-half goals to suffer its first loss of the season. The Bulldogs rebounded against Williamsville East on the road, with a tie in a high-scoring affair. Both are teams they will most likely see again in Class A, if they expect to make a run deep in the sectional playoffs.
“We have three or four really good teams in our division,” Williamsville South assistant coach Tony Pariso said. “I would say in the A-Division, we have the most difficult teams in the [Erie County Interscholastic Conference].”
Through seven games for the Bulldogs, sophomore sensation Kara Daly has scored 17 goals, including netting the team’s lone goal against East, before adding three more against South. She ranks sixth in Section VI girls soccer, with 36 points.
“[Daly] sets a good example [for the rest of the team]. She always plays hard,” said Zugger, who referred to Daly as unselfish. “She’s as good of forward as there is in ECIC or any of the divisions, right now.”
In getting off to a fast start this season at 4 – 1 – 2, Hamburg has outscored its opponents 24 – 12. While Daly is the motor behind her team’s building momentum, the Bulldogs have also leaned on their freshman goaltender, Julia Whipple.
“[Whipple] is playing like a veteran,” said Hamburg goalies coach Joel Maxson. “She plays at a high level in club soccer. She’s been training for a lot of years to play at this level, so it’s nice to be able to put a veteran right in that spot. She’s technically sound.”
Also against East, Abbey Piccillo and Ashley Kabza hit the back of the net. Hamburg scored twice in a 4-minute span during the second half, to secure the tie.
Among the nine games left for Hamburg in the regular season, the Bulldogs will get another shot at Williamsville South on Oct. 11 and in hosting Williamsville East on Oct.15.