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North Collins boys soccer looks to hit stride

The responsibility of carrying on the tradition of being a 24-time sectional champion would have almost any team excited to start a season. But tradition can carry a team for only so long.

The North Collins boys soccer team has carried on that tradition out of the gate, starting 6 – 2 –1, but head coach Jay Walters said that how the team finishes will say a lot more about it.

“This week is when all teams should hit their stride,” said Walters, whose program captured four of those 24 titles in the past four seasons. “Teams like mine are riding tradition to start the year, but that starts not to be a big factor. When you hit Oct. 1, that’s when the true test starts.”

The Eagles captured a 2 – 0 win against an improved Cassadaga Valley team on Sept. 28, as the school celebrated alumni day with both boys and girls games and then an alumni game. The girls also won 4 – 0.

Walters said he wanted to get his team back on track, heading toward that stretch run drive, after going two consecutive games without a win. North Collins lost a game Walters said it should have won, 2 – 1 to Frewsburg, and then finished in a scoreless tie with Cattaraugus-Little Valley. Both were road games.

The win was not flashy, but it was just what the doctor ordered. Chris Pulinski scored a first half goal, assisted by Ben Schubert, and Connor Renaldo added a tally in the second off a pass from the team’s senior leader and top defender Zane Lloyd.

“We lagged a little there on the road, so it was nice to find ourselves,” Walters said. “We’re not a real creative offensive team, but we can grind out a game, and we defend our net well.”

The coach said that the biggest surprises of the season have come up front from junior Kyle Loretto and in goal with freshman Nathan Turnbull. Loretto leads the Eagles from the midfield with five goals, after asking Walters to come out of the net and play in the field. Turnbull has taken over in the vacated spot and recorded five shutouts. In many of those games, Walters said the first-year starter turned away seven or eight counter attacks.

“I felt like Nathan was strong enough to hold down the goal,” Walters said. “Every week, Kyle’s getting more solid in the field and Nate has been strong, so I haven’t had to put Kyle back in goal.”

Walters said he is happy with how his team has played in the Chautauqua Cattaraugus Athletic Association Central, after division realignments pitted teams together geographically, instead of by size. For the first time in several seasons, the Eagles are not in the same division with fellow Class D power Ellicottville, and Walters said he wonders what kind of effect that will have on the postseason.

“It’s neat, in a way, not to play Ellicottville, but that could also be our demise, not being able to see them,” Walters noted. “We know very little about them this year.”

Note — Nick Quiter, who scored two goals to lead North Collins in a state championship game win in 1994, played in the alumni game; not surprisingly, according to Walters, he scored twice. North Collins is the only school from Section VI to win an outright state title in the sport.

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