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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Lu’s Stellar Night Aids I-Prep Title Win

AMHERST, NY – – Two perennial soccer powers represented their respective Class B divisions at Sweet Home High School in the Boys Soccer Class B crossover match on Tuesday evening. The International Prep Presidents, the top seed from Class B1, faced off against the top dog representing Class B2, the Lackawanna Steelers. Pa Lu’s hat trick and pair of assists paved I-Prep’s way to claim the Section VI Class B title, 8-2.

I-Prep started the game off earning a majority of the scoring chances, before Lackawanna took control midway through the game, having two opportune scoring chances from Abdulhamid Albaneh, which were stopped by the Presidents’ goalkeeper Rashid Put. In the later stages of the 1st half, I-Prep regained offensive control as Pa Lu (WNY Athletics’ first-ever Athlete of the Week) scored a pair of goals four minutes in-between one another giving I-Prep the lead, which they never looked back on.

The first ten minutes of the 2nd half were a scoring frenzy showcasing four goals, three of which came from I-Prep. Abdullahi Hussein netted two goals for I-Prep in that span, with Ahmed Hassoon adding the other Presidents’ goal. Lackawanna’s Albaneh sandwiched a goal for his team in the middle of I-Prep’s scoring outburst.

“We’re just playing hot right now,” I-Prep head coach Tony Alessi praised about his team. “We just want to keep riding the waves for as long as we can ride it. I’m very proud of the way our guys played and they’ve answered every call so far. I hope they keep answering.”

Hassoon scored another goal in the middle portion of the game for the Presidents. Lu assisted on both of Hassoon’s goal, both of which were spectacular passes inside the 8-yard box. Hamidou Balde added a goal for the Steelers with eight minutes left, before I-Prep’s Solomon Thang added the final goal of the game with less than two minutes left in the match.

The eight goals by the Presidents ties their season-high which was set twice, both coming in 8-0 wins over Olmsted on Sept. 26 and St. Francis on Oct. 10.

“We knew coming in they had a good defense, a good goalie and 14 shutouts; it was going to be tough,” Coach Alessi stated. “In the first half we struggled a little bit, but by the time we got rolling and got used to them we got the lead and they had to press a little more.”

Lu’s impeccable performance in the game was his 4th game scoring three goals, his first since Sept. 14, in a 6-0 win over City Honors. His three-goal performance gives the senior a seasonal goal total of 31. His two assists also upped his total on the season to 19. The 5-point performance is his second such game of the season (the other came in a 7-0 win over Riverside on Sept. 6).

“I’m really proud of these guys,” Lu proudly said about his team’s performance. “I’m really glad that we do what we’re expected to do. We all want to go back to states, like in 2014; we expect to work together and we did it.”

Despite the lopsided score, Lackawanna head coach Abdul Norman should be very proud of his team’s first half performance, keeping up with the Presidents as well as they did. Norman was unable to be interviewed by WNY Athletics after the game as the team left the playing field immediately following the award ceremony.

Lackawanna finishes the season with a record of 16-3-1, owning a goal differential of +43 (67 goals for, 24 against). The goal scorers for the Steelers in the loss happen to be their top goal scorers and they will both return to the team next season. Albaneh (a junior) was the team’s leading scorer with 20, while Balde (only a freshman) had 14. Lackawanna only loses five players from this year’s roster due to graduation, a very good sign for Norman and the Steelers.

“They have a lot of good, young talent and their record speaks for itself,” Coach Alessi stated about the opposition. “They’re a very good team.”

I-Prep advances to the Far West Regional for Class A that will be held this Saturday (Nov. 5) at 4:00pm that will be hosted at Sweet Home. The Presidents (19-1-0) will play against the representative from Section V (Rochester), Livonia.

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