Grand Island star Brooke Amato has had plenty of success against Lewiston-Porter in her four-year varsity career, but Wednesday was almost different. The Lancers – and goalkeeper Rebecca Hoffman – kept her off the score sheet for 80 minutes.
But the Vikings had to work some overtime on this night and that’s when Amato found her moment. The senior standout scored in the 85th minute and Grand Island escaped with a 2-1 win over Lew-Port in Niagara Frontier League action.
“It just always kind of a thing,” she said with a laugh. “I always score a hat trick against them, it seems. I just had one goal tonight but it counts. A winning goal is nice.”
With the victory, the Vikings now just have to beat winless CSAT on Friday to secure another undefeated NFL season. Grand Island improved to 12-1-1 overall and 10-0 in the league.
“It was senior night and the girls didn’t want anything other than a win,” GI coach Dave Bowman said. “They have a goal and they don’t want to lose a league game.”
The Vikings rolled to a 4-1 win at Lew-Port last month but this was a different ballgame. GI freshman sensation Ella Rudney opened the scoring with her 13th goal of the season late in the first half but the Lancers responded in the second half with a goal by Sarah Woods, her seventh.
“The first time they were missing a couple key players,” Bowman said. “They were ready. I’ve watched them play a couple times this year and, in my opinion, they might be the second-best team (in the NFL). They’re really good, they’ve got talent across the board. You can’t watch just one or two of them.”
The biggest reason why Lew-Port (7-5-1 overall, 6-3-1 NFL) took the game to OT was the performance of the freshman Hoffman. She made 15 saves, several of the diving variety.
“She’s a really good goalie,” Amato said. “She stopped a lot of really hard shots. We just had to keep working hard, keep working as one.”
They did and ultimately, Amato came through when it mattered the most. She took advantage of a nice lead pass from Avery Mondoux to break in and then buried her own rebound for the winner.
“I just worked my butt off, just like everyone else did, that’s how we got the goal,” Amato said. “I went through defenders and then it bounced off the goalie and then I shot it right in the net.”
Overtime isn’t sudden death so the Vikings still had to survive the rest of the first OT and then the second one as well. And they did so because of goalkeeper Lydia Sweeney, who made a huge leaping save with three minutes left in the second overtime.
Playing goalie on a team like Grand Island can often be a lonely job, but Sweeney was clutch on Wednesday with eight saves.
“It’s quite often she’s not needed a lot,” Bowman said. “But when we need her, she’s always there to come up big. She’s never one that’s caught sleeping. She’s one of the most athletic girls that’s come through this program and she makes the big stops when we need her.”