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Birzon, Flames Too Much For Bulldogs

When Hamburg and Williamsville East met in September for an ECIC II girls soccer game, the Bulldogs pulled off a tall task and kept Flames’ star Marissa Birzon off the score sheet. No such luck this time for Hamburg. Birzon scored twice on Monday afternoon and led Williamsville East to a 3-0 win over the visiting Bulldogs.

“She’s about as a good a player as there is in the whole section,” Hamburg coach Tom Zugger said. “We played them a couple weeks ago and she didn’t get a point with Katie Villarini marking her. Today, Katie marked her hard but Marissa still got two goals. That’s just what you’re going to get sometimes. She’s a great player.”

Turns out it really didn’t matter much anyway – Williamsville East won the first game by that same 3-0 count. But the Ohio State-bound Birzon was clearly the best player on the field on Monday, picking up her 17th and 18th goals of the season.

“Wherever she is on the field, you have to be aware of where she is,” Williamsville East coach Chris Durr said. “They take their best player and put her on her and it kind of changes the whole dynamic of their team. But they have to do it or she’d have a few more.”

Ruby Zhang also scored for the Flames and Tess Ford assisted on both of Birzon’s goals. Sarah Panepento stopped all three shots she faced for the shutout.

“Our communication and work-ethic has been getting better all season it shows on the field,” Birzon said. “Our thru-balls have been going really well and if I’m marked, I just need to find options to other players to get them goals. Everyone has played well.”

Williamsville East improved to 9-2 overall and 9-0 in the division ahead of Wednesday’s showdown at rival Williamsville South. Both of the Flames’ losses have come against Class AA teams.

“We’re happy with where we are,” Durr said. “We still have some things to work on. Some of the younger kids are getting used to the speed and quickness of the game and they’re getting better every day.”

For Hamburg, the star was senior goalkeeper Julia Whipple. The fourth-year varsity standout made 10 saves, several of the diving variety.”

“Their goalie made three or four just outstanding saves,” Durr said. “I think she’s the best goalie in our division. She’s really athletic and that kind of kept it at three (for East).”

Hamburg fell to 5-7 overall and 4-4 in ECIC II. It was the third straight loss for the Bulldogs, who dropped non-leaguers against Class AA teams in Lancaster and Frontier.

“We’re winning the games we have to win,” Zugger said. “We still have to improve against the Williamsville schools but we’re getting there. All and all, we can still finish in the top half of our league and that’s what we want to do.”

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