FREWSBURG - It's playoff time, and the Frewsburg Bears are taking no prisoners.
"We're going hard," Frewsburg coach Ericka Alm said. "That's it. We're in the playoffs now, so we're not stopping. We don't care how far ahead we go, we just want to keep bringing the heat and carry it on through as far as we can. We've got to keep the momentum going."
It's that kind of cut-throat mentality that is necessary when a loss means the end of a season and, for many seniors, the end of a career; not to mention when a possible Section 6 title is on horizon.
So it was in that spirit that the sixth-seeded Bears took to the field on a grey Tuesday afternoon against visiting Chautauqua Lake, and the squad tallied a pair of goals in the first half and three more in the second on the way to a 5-0 Class C pre-quarterfinal victory.
Chautauqua Lake's season, meanwhile, ends at 5-8-1.
"They're a good squad," Lady Thunderbirds' coach Ryan Smith said. "Their offense is solid; their whole team, top to bottom, is solid."
Alm certainly got that first-rate, from top-to-bottom performance from her players in this one.
Annie Berg, who for much of the season (and her career) has played sweeper, moved up to center midfield and the change of scenery paid immediate dividends. The senior, just nine minutes into the contest, patiently maneuvered the ball through the Chautauqua Lake defense and popped a pass to teammate Janessa Annis in front of the net, who beat goaltender Racheal Fortny to give the hosts a 1-0 advantage. Then, a little less than 10 minutes later, Berg tallied her fourth goal of the season when she fired a bouncing shot from just outside the area that skipped into the back of the net, giving Frewsburg a quick 2-0 lead.
"We've been a little weak at the center," Alm said of the reasoning behind Berg's recent move forward, "and Annie is the best player we've got to put there. Annie is a very smart player, Annie knows the field, and that comes with five years experience of being a sweeper. She just knows where to be, and I've been telling the girls all season - you've got to have instinct. Annie has that."
It was those two early goals, Smith noted, that took his Lady Thunderbirds out of their game.
"We couldn't win any balls," he said. "I think our aggressiveness kind of dropped off a little bit halfway through the first half once we got scored on a couple of times. (The girls) put their heads down a little bit, I think."
While it was Berg who set the tone offensively in the opening half, Abbey Jermaine took over in the second. At the 48th minute, after the ball was pushed ahead to Jermaine on the wing, the sophomore found Mackenzie Swartzman cutting to the net for the squad's third goal. Four minutes later, Jermaine curled another cross into the area from the corner to Maddie Whippo, who got just enough of the ball to redirect it into the net.
"(Abbey) was on fire!" an excited Alm said. "I think this was her best game of the year. I mean, she showed up ready to play and she was just ripping them off. I was really happy with her, that's why I told her when she came off (the field) that this was her best game."
Sam Eklund finished things off at the 72nd minute from Tessa Alianell.
All told, the Bears had 25 shots on goal and took a whopping 50 shots total.
"I think, individually, a lot of girls had their best games (today)," Alm said. "I am very happy, very happy. This is what we've been hoping for."