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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Lady Jacks Win TNT Cup

This is what high school soccer should be.

Senior Samantha Hanes (two goals) earned MVP honors and freshman Bella Finley scored the game-winner as the Lady Jacks scored a heart-stopping 5-3 win over the Lady Warriors in Section VI non-league soccer action.

The victory allows the Lady Jacks to maintain possession of the TNT Cup for a fourth consecutive year.

“It was lots of fun,” said Samantha Hanes. “It was a super close game. We went back-and-forth the entire time. I thought it was great.”

While the two programs have been doing battle on the pitch for decades it was former NT coach Steven Sabo and former THS coach Julie Johnson who got together in 2013 and decided to spice up the rivalry by adding the TNT Cup trophy to play for.

It looked as if this might just be the Warriors year when junior Hope Balling, who was named Tonawanda’s MVP, scored the first of her two goals 10 minutes into the game to give the Lady Warriors the 1-0 lead.

An evenly played game throughout, the match up truly highlighted the elite travel soccer talent that both programs pride themselves in having. Both teams moved the ball well through the midfield and created plenty of scoring chances that kept both goalies on their toes. None of the goals were cheap and there was no dirty play.

Holding a 1-0 lead at halftime, the momentum definitely favored the Lady Warriors (5-3), thanks in part to Haley Schoelerman stopping all 10 shots that she faced.

But as the game rolled into the second half the game transitioned from a chess match to a prize fight where both teams exchanged goals the way two boxers would trade knock out punches.

Hanes scored the first of her two goals just 20 seconds into the half and triggered a five minute span that saw three goals tallied and a 2-2 tie.

“Both teams really wanted to score and win,” said Balling, “so we were pushing harder and the tempo was a lot faster.”

Balling gave her team the lead when she beat Sammarco who came out of the net to challenge. Hanes would match her close friend in the highlight reel department when she drilled the ball to the top right corner above the reach of the 6-foot-1 Schoelerman, making it 3-3.

Finley would get the game-winner with 4:24 to play and Hallie Daigler capped off the scoring.

“The second half both teams picked it up and it was just non-stop back-and-forth.” Hanes said.

Taylor Hollock gave Tonawanda the 2-1 lead just 23 seconds after Hanes scored. NT’s Macey Giolei’s goal tied it at 2-2.

Sammarco made nine saves on 12 shots, while Schoelerman turned away 14 of the 19 shots that she faced.

“The tradition has been going on forever so I know it’s very exciting for both teams,” said NT coach and former Lady Jack, Hannah Crouch.

“For us, we came off a very tough week last week and this win meant a lot for us moving forward.”

Lady Warriors coach Angie Nicholas, herself a former Lady Warrior, felt her team gave it their best shot against the bigger school. Like her girls, Nicholas obviously wanted to win, but it was also important for her girls to put the result in perspective against the rest of the season. Nicholas also agreed that the game showed the level of pure soccer talent on both sides of the canal.

“They know each other,” she said. “So at the end of the game it’s kind of cool to see each other, walk off, shake hands. Because at the end of the day we all play the game because we love it. And it’s just nice to see it be played at a high school level so well.”

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