JAMESTOWN - Athletes from the area came together on Sunday at the Red Raider Athletic Complex for one final soccer game of the year.
Paying no attention to freezing sleet and a mud-strewn field, both boys and girls put on an impressive showcase for fans and coaches in the 14th annual Chautauqua County Senior Game.
In the girls matchup, the White team prevailed by a score of 5-1, while the boys game was closely battled with White also winning, 2-1.
Photos by Jay Young
At the 14th annual Chautauqua County High School Senior Soccer Game, Andrew Robinson Jr. of Fessenden, Laumer & DeAngelo presenteded the girls most valuable player awards, sponsored by his firm. At left is Brigitte Boettchner of Fredonia for the White team, left, and Santana France of Randolph won for the Blue team.
At the conclusion of both games, scholarships were awarded to the day's outstanding players courtesy of Fessenden, Laumer and DeAngelo. For the girls, Brigitte Boettcher of Fredonia and Santana France of Randolph took home the honors while Southwestern goalkeeper Eric Priester and Cassadaga Valley striker Kyle Ruge were the boy's recipients.
The girls were the first to take the field at noon and as soon as the opening ball was kicked, the White Team wasted no time getting into an offensive groove.
Coached by Kevin Rice of Silver Creek and Rob Pawlak of Panama, the team opened up the scoring with a goal from MVP France in the very first minute of the game.
France dribbled the ball quickly downfield, just seconds into the half, and found an opening between defenders that was just large enough to bury the ball for a 1-0 lead.
After the early tally from White, Emily Wuebbolt (Southwestern) of the Blue Team had her own chance to score on an outside shot, but the ball went just wide.
Karlee Foti of Frewsburg was also red hot in the first period. Following France's goal, she peppered Blue goaltender Maddie Pinciaro (Jamestown) with a series of shots from outside the box. The Blue defense was unable to clear a ball midway through the period that Foti was able to put home on a left-footed try.
The next White player to find the back of the net was Brittany Johnston (Cassadaga Valley), who put a ball in off the crossbar at the fifth minute of the second half.
Liz Dallas of Falconer scored the following try on a deep bender in the 20th minute that put the White Team up by a commanding 4-0 margin.
The Blue squad, coached by Derek Houser (Southwestern) and Devyn Agett (Jamestown) had plenty of opportunities to score late in the game, but could not get the ball past White keeper Miranda Owen (Dunkirk).
Maxine Williams (Jamestown) had one ideal opportunity from inside the 18, but was foiled by a standing puddle on the field.
"I got an opportunity to do this last year, and I look forward to being able to coach these girls before they head to college," Houser said after the game.
The final goal for White came with 18:44 to play off the foot of France for her second.
Blue was finally able to get on the board on a desperation play with five seconds remaining in the game. After a ball was bobbled by the White keeper, Boettcher was able to bury home a rebound and end the game at 5-1.
"As a coach, it is great to be able to work with players like this that normally play each other," Rice said. "They come together and it's great to see what they can do."
The boy's matchup featured two more evenly-matched teams, and had plenty of star talent on display.
Priester certainly had to work for his MVP appointment. The Trojan keeper made four crucial stops in the closing minutes of the game and gave the Blue Team a chance to even the score.
It was Riley Beaton (Maple Grove) who was able to put his Blue squad on the board first with a goal at 17:33 that was assisted by Alex Bower of Southwestern.
Shortly after going up by one, White responded with a score of the left foot of Ruge that was assisted by Josh Anderson (Jamestown).
With the score tied, both teams started to play stronger defense and focus on dealing with the elements.
Derek Smith of Frewsburg put the final tally of the day on the board at 27:02 of the second period and gave the White team their 2-1 lead.
In the closing minutes of the game, there were several shots in tight from the Blue, including good opportunities by Nick Swanson (Maple Grove) and Tristan Desnerik of the Southwestern Trojans. Priester made an astonishing save with five minutes to play and then sent a punt past midfield, setting up a final offensive charge.
At the conclusion of the game, coach Dan Molfino (Falconer) reflected on his time spent coaching players from the area.
"The skill level is what makes this so fun for the parents and for us," he noted. "It's nice not having to worry about these guys scoring against you for once."