Bulldogs Advance in A-1 Soccer Playoffs
It was the kind of win that meant much more than what the final score indicated.
Senior captain Emilie Puzzella scored three goals, including the game-winner, as No.4 Kenmore East blanked No.5 McKinley, 9-0, in their Section VI Class A-1 quarterfinal game that was played at Adams Field Wednesday night.
The win vaults the Lady Bulldogs into the semifinals where they will face top-seed Hamburg next Monday (7:30pm) at Williamsville East High School. It also marks the first sectional win for the program since 2014.
“It’s definitely a confidence builder from this group of girls. Our next is gonna be huge…just to get a win today and to move the ball around in ways we haven’t been able to because our competition is so high,” said second year head coach Jamie Raepple. It was definitely a good stepping stone to who we have to (face) next and it’s exciting to get this first sectional win in I can’t remember how long.”
Puzzella opened the scoring in the fourth minute and that was all the Lady Bulldogs would really need. But at no point did the ‘Dogs act as if the game was a lock, even after goals by Sventlana Weeks, Kaelyn Weber, and Puzzella’s second tally gave them a 4-0 lead at halftime.
As the lead increased the Lady Bulldogs found themselves in a bit of an awkward spot. They didn’t want to demoralize McKinley by running up the score. But at the same time after coming off of three consecutive shutout losses the Bulldogs also knew they could not take their foot off the gas and give McKinley an opening to crawl back into the game.
“We’ve definitely struggled getting balls into the back of the net. We really connected tonight,” Puzzella said. “It gives us some confidence heading into the second round. It’s sectionals, we had to get some goals up there but I think we stayed respectful throughout and had some good sportsmanship.”
Though the Lady Macks were clearly overmatched to their credit they didn’t roll over after falling behind. They hustled and did their best to pack the middle of the field inside their 20 so that the Bulldogs would be forced to move the ball around and try to attack from the outside.
Lauren Reinhardt, Elliana Masecchia, and Brooke Kramer also scored for Kenmore East.
“It gives them a lot of confidence,” Raepple said after seeing multiple names on the scoresheet. “That has been our biggest struggle this season: scoring. Getting the ball in the back of the net. To see a lot of productivity from many players is awesome.”