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High School Boys Soccer: Balance keys Eden’s 7-3-1 mark

Eden’s John Bley has 10 goals to lead the team. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Over the past few seasons, Eden would struggle on offense at times because it relied heavily on one player to score goals. This year, the Raiders have enjoyed more balanced scoring, coming mainly from two sources instead of one, and reaped the benefits of it in the win column.

Eden is 7-3-1 overall and 6-2-1 in ECIC Division IV play, good for a second-place tie with Tonawanda, which it met on the road in a game under the lights on Oct. 17.

The only division games the Raiders lost were two hard-fought contests with first-place Lackawanna, which is also ranked atop Section VI Class B-2. The first game came down to two penalty kicks in a 2-1 loss and in the other, Eden ran out to an early 2-0 lead in the game before Lackawanna reeled off four unanswered tallies.

Senior Jesse Dranger and junior Jon Bley lead a more balanced offensive team. Both are very capable scorers with nine and 10 goals, respectively.

“One of the big perks for our team this year is that we are very balanced,” said fourth-year head coach Tom Wall. “Since I’ve been coaching, we’ve only had one striker to consistently put the ball in the net. Now that opponents aren’t able to focus on one person, we’ve been able to balance our attack much more.”

In the midfield, seniors Aaron Stadelmaier and Tyler Bernas lead the team in assists as the two do a good job moving the ball in transition.

The defense went seven games without allowing a goal during running time. Only two penalty kicks and one free kick went into the net during that time. Already a vocal leader, goalkeeper Tyler Gates has been a big part of that success.

Leading the defense in front of him has been the lone senior on that unit, Alex Pustulka, who Wall called a physical presence in the middle. The junior-heavy unit has been strengthened by Brad Palmerton at sweeper and Peter Schmitz, Matt Henry, Joe Cuddihy and Robert Cogdon all splitting time playing the outsides.

Midfielders Anthony Sinnott and Henry Ohmit, who have been improving throughout the year, according to Wall, both can contribute on the offense and defensive side of the ball.

The only other team to beat Eden this season was cross-town rival North Collins, which won an overtime game between the two non-league foes. The two will meet again in both teams’ regular season finale on Saturday, Oct. 20, before the start of a playoffs. Wall feels confident in his squad once it reaches the postseason.

“If we are able to put it all together, we feel that we have the ability to surprise some people,” Wall noted.

Lake Shore beats Pioneer 1-0, ties Maryvale 1-1

Lake Shore controlled a majority of the possession, but it took a field-long run from defender Jerry Yeates to score the lone goal in the Eagles’ 1-0 win over Pioneer on Oct. 11. Lake Shore, which is enjoying one of the program’s best seasons in recent history but cooled down offensively of late, now stands at 11-2-1 overall.

Two nights earlier, the Eagles played to a 1-1 draw with visiting Maryvale. Kade McGarrity scored the lone Lake Shore goal with two minutes remaining to force overtime. In the overtime session, Lake Shore created some quality chances, but were unable to finish. The Eagles hosted Cheektowaga in their Senior Night game on Oct. 17.

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