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High School Boys Soccer: Frontier bests Hamburg on PK in OT

Frontier’s Josh Sporyz (left) tries to keep the ball at his feet as Hamburg’s Zach Dake challenges. Frontier won 1-0 in OT. (Photo by Michael J. Petro)

It wasn’t the most ideal way to get one into the back of the net, but Frontier’s first goal in seven games was a welcome tally and one that came at an extremely opportune time.

The Falcons were awarded a penalty kick a few minutes into the second overtime period at rival Hamburg and senior Kevin Marcinkowski cashed in with his first varsity goal, beating the Bulldogs’ goalie with a shot to the left post.

Frontier’s first goal since a 2-2 tie with Kenmore West in the season-opening Coaches vs. Cancer ECIC/NFL Challenge gave the Falcons their first win in eight tries this season.

“It’s unfortunate to win that way in sudden death overtime, but fortunately the team stepped up and one of our guys got his first varsity goal, which is a great accomplishment,” Frontier head coach Nick Christou said. “I’m excited for that and us getting a win.”

Hamburg’s first-year head coach Aaron Grupka was disappointed to see a highly competitive game between the two neighboring schools end like that, but he continued to see steady improvement from his squad, which is now 3-6.

“That’s not how you want the game to go, especially against your rival,” noted Grupka, who after eight years working in the program with Jim Harrigan took over after Harrigan stepped aside. “We’re a much better team now than we were in the first weekend of the season. But there’s still room to grow.”

With nine minutes left before the end of regulation, Hamburg top scorer, senior Cole Beale, rushed the net and took a straight away shot that was stopped by junior Zachary Perkins, who made seven saves in picking up his first varsity win.

In the first overtime, Frontier junior Alec Loveless broke by a few Hamburg defenders and in on net before squirting the ball just wide to the far corner.

Christou said he has been working with his team on finishing the offensive chances that it gets each game.

“I’m hoping this creates some momentum our way,” Christou said. “We’ve had a really tough go of it. We’ve had our chances in games but haven’t capitalized on them.”

Grupka has looked to Beale, who’s a top three scorer in ECIC Division II , for offense and Tyler Bellito for leadership on defense. After starting the season 3-2, Hamburg has run in to tough division foes Williamsville South, Williamsville East and Sweet Home, before playing Frontier.

“There’s plenty of tough competition for us to face in our division,” Grupka said. “We’re going to look to finish strong, position ourselves in a decent spot for the playoffs and learn from our mistakes so that we can correct them and move forward.”

Christou is also looking for his team to gather itself for a possible run in the Section VI playoffs. His team won a quarterfinal home game in Class AA last year before falling in the semifinal round.

“Our goal is to be ready for sectionals,” Christou noted. “We’ve been competitive but unfortunately haven’t capitalized. We trying to hold strong and be primed for sectionals.”

Also locally, Lake Shore defeated visiting Amherst in dramatic fashion on Sept. 27, by a score of 1-0. Captain Wade Bergum was fouled inside the box and converted his penalty kick with 45 seconds remaining in the match for the game’s only goal. Bryce Parker-Norton recorded the shutout in goal, which included turning away an opportunity for Amherst off of a free kick with 20 minutes remaining in the game. The Eagles’ record now stands at 9-1 overall and 5-1 in league play.

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