Thursday November 8, 2012 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Jared Keppel, seen here earlier in the season, assisted on North Collins’ lone goal in beating Ellicottville for the Class D title. (Photo by Michael J. Petro)
It’s been four straight seasons that North Collins met and beat Ellicottville for the Class D championship and regardless of how much one team may have looked better than the other during the regular season, non of those title games have been anything but close and played down to the wire.
After winning last season’s championship on penalty kicks, North Collins took Friday’s (Nov. 2) contest at Pioneer without overtime being necessary but again, a major battle was waged. Todd Youngman tapped in a cross from fellow senior Jared Keppel 24 minutes into the game for what proved to be the game-winner, leading to the program’s 26th sectional title.
Though they possessed the ball about 70 percent of the time, according to head coach Jay Walters, the Eagles suffered a breakdown for about two to three minutes in the second half and had to withstand a barrage in which Ellicottville hit the crossbar twice.
“In these games, you need to discount what happened in the regular season,” said Walters, whose team had beaten Ellicottville in a pair of 2-0 games this season. “Ellicottville is always prepared and they came at us at 100 miles per hour.”
Walters pointed out that these championship games are simply played at a higher level and sometimes it takes players time to adjust to the ramped up contest. Just because North Collins enjoyed a 12-2 season, in which it tied Maple Grove for the CCAA Division III title at 11-1, didn’t mean Ellicottville was ready to back down.
“It’s a great learning experience in these games and often you’re surprised by what you see from your own team and the other team,” Walters said. “Sometimes some of your better kids fade, while others step up. This is another year where we are fairly young and I think they were a little struck by how hard Ellicottville came at us.”
Walters, who is the chairman of CCAA III, said he was proud that not only North Collins, but also division mate and Class C champion Maple Grove advances to the Far West Regionals this weekend. While splitting the season series, the Eagles handed Maple Grove its only loss of the season.
North Collins’ season continues Saturday, Nov. 10 2 p.m. at Hamburg against the winner of the Section V cross-over championship game between Webster Christian and Jasper-Trouspburg. Walters said he and assistant, Rob Catalino, were driving to Rochester Nov. 6 to scout the game.