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Hamburg topples N-W to make eighth-straight trip to the finals

In case making their eighth-straight trip to the sectional final wasn’t enough of an incentive, the Hamburg Girls Lacrosse team had another reason to come out on top Thursday.

It was the final time Katy Ryan would roam the sidelines of Howe Field as coach of the Bulldogs.

No. 2 Hamburg made sure their coach would walk off the field victorious as Emma O’Neil and Dana Bacher scored six goals each in a 17-7 triumph of No. 3 Niagara-Wheatfield in the Section VI Class B Girls Lacrosse semifinals.

“It was the seniors knowing it was the last time they would be playing on this field,” Ryan said. “This is also my last year with my program. We all wanted to fight for each other today knowing that a trip to the championship was on the line.”

After tying the game at three on a free position goal from 12 yards out, Falcons’ senior Erin Wegrzyn appeared to give her team the lead when she cut to the net and put one in.

However, a stick check was called and Wegrzyn’s stick was determined to be illegal.

The goal was disallowed and Niagara-Wheatfield couldn’t recover as Hamburg scored nine-straight goals.

“We lost momentum and Hamburg capitalized on it,” Falcons coach Trish Printup said. “It was a game-changer.”

Ryan couldn’t deny the impact of the moment either.

“That’s obviously huge and a big momentum change,” Ryan said. “You want something to swing in your favor because they would have been up.”

Hamburg will face cross-town rival No. 1 Frontier in the sectional final at Williamsville North High School on May 31 at 6 p.m.

It will be a big test for the Bulldogs as Frontier won the Class A sectional title last year before dropping down to Class B this year.

“We’ve played against them and didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but we know what to do to beat them,” O’Neil said.

Bacher took the game’s opening faceoff down the field and less than a minute later put the ball in the back of the net. Fellow sophomore Anjali Silverheels added on when she scored off a pass from Bailey Duffy to make 2-0 Bulldogs.

Niagara-Wheatfield responded with two quick goals of their own from Jocelyn Fike and Wegrzyn.

Silverheels got her second when she came from behind the net to score to giver team the 3-2 lead with 9:28 left in the first.

After the Falcons’ mishap, Tara Geary gave Hamburg the lead and Hamburg rolled from there.

O’Neil put home her first of the night when she fought through multiple defenders and threw it in. Just before the half came to a close, O’Neil added another goal to extend the lead to 7-3.

Bacher started the second with back-to-back goals, followed by three-straight from O’Neil to put the game out of reach for Wheatfield.

Wegrzyn ended the Bulldog run when she scored on a free position chance from 11 yards out with 13:32 left. She accounted for six of the Falcons’ seven goals in her final game for N-W.

“She was a one-man team out there,” Printup said. “She put in her heart and she has brought the program up herself. She’s dedicated both in the on- and off-season. She’s our captain and it showed today.”

Tori Lettieri scored a pair of goals for and Jess Graber was strong in net for the Hamburg.

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