Title run comes up short

The top-seeded Ellicottville Lady Eagles scored early and often on their way to a 4-0 victory over the No. 2 Pine Valley Lady Panthers in Friday’s Section 6 Class D girls soccer championship played at Dunkirk’s Karl Hoeppner Field.

For the Lady Eagles, the premiere Class D girls soccer team in Section 6, it is their ninth Section 6 title since 2001. During that stretch Ellicottville has won three Regional championships (2002, 2010, 2011) as well as a state title in 2003.

“Never,” Ellicottville coach Mary Neilson replied when asked if the feeling associated with winning Section 6 championships ever gets old. “We had a rough week this week, did a lot of growing up, and it was nice we could come out and play hard today.”

The Lady Eagles opened with a barrage and jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the midway point of the first half. From that point forward Pine Valley was able to calm down, and play better defense, but by then the damage was done.

“We started out a little intimidated but I think as the game went on we fought back and got more comfortable,” Pine Valley coach Matt Edwards said. “We just couldn’t get our offense going. I think if we could’ve gotten our offense going it would’ve been a different game.”

Less than four minutes into the contest Ellicottville’s Becca Golley scored the game’s opening goal. After a Lady Eagle corner kick the ball was headed to the front of the net where Golley found herself with room to shoot and put home the point-blank shot. Alexis Woodin was credited with the assist.

After 15 more minutes of heavy pressure by the Lady Eagles, Hannah Doro scored the second goal of the match. Doro took possesion of ball after a Lady Eagle goalie kick and weaved her way through the defense to near the 20-yard mark. From there she ripped a high, arcing shot that found the top of the goal out of the reach of Pine Valley goalie Rebecca Butcher. Ellicottville goalie Liz Wendel received the rare goalie assist on the play.

Four minutes later Hailey Musall scored the third goal of the first half after a shot from inside the 18 deflected off Butcher out front and right to Musall who cashed in the goal.

Ellicottville, who finished the regular season 12-0-4, dominated the first half. The Lady Eagles held a 13-5 advantage in shots at the half and all three shots they put on goal found the back of the net.

Pine Valley’s defense improved after its rough first half but the offense couldn’t manage many opportunities going forward. The game was physical and Ellicottville was able to win the majority of the 50/50 balls while keping the Lady Panthers pinned in their own end for the majority of the match.

Halfway through the second half, after a Lady Eagle throw in from deep inside Lady Panther territory, Morgan Zlockie gained possession of the ball and fired a shot into the near side upper corner to give Ellicottville its fourth and final goal of the contest.

Zlockie had been phenomenal up until that point. She was all over the field, winning 50/50 balls, playing smart defense and setting up her teammates. After the performance she was having up until that point it was no surprise to anyone when Zlockie scored.

“(Zlockie) is our playmaker,” Neilson said. “She’s exciting to watch and she moves and has great anticipation and we’re just really glad she’s on our team.”

Zlockie had previously just missed a goal when she rifled a direct kick from around the 20-yard mark that just bounced off the crossbar.

By the end of the game Ellicottville held a 27-6 advantage in shots and a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal.

Lady Eagle goalkeeper Wendel needed to make only two saves to earn the shutout.

Butcher made 7 saves for Pine Valley in the loss.

“They played tough (all season),” Edwards said. “We had games where we were down 1-0 and they scored two goals in the final four minutes of the game; we’ve had games where we’ve lost to teams previously in the season and came back to beat them the seconds time. Just overall the team has instead of just folding when times got tough they’d always answer back and are very resilient. I’m very proud of them.

“The future looks very bright. We have seven starting sophomores returning and they work hard and do a lot of offseason training so we’ll be ready for next season.”

After the Section 6 ceremonies, the Ellicottville seniors hoisted the trophy, which is presented to the captains and coaches of the Section 6 champions, as the underclassmen and coaches looked on and cheered.

“I just know how hard they’ve worked and how much they wanted and worked for the chance to go on,” an emotional Neilson said while reflecting on her seniors.