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Warriors Ready For Post Season Run

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you start to hear the clock ticking.

That’s what the Tonawanda Warriors boys’ soccer team has discovered.

As the calendar is about to turn to October the Warriors feel they have truly begun to put things together and are realizing their potential as a team.

With the regular season hitting the home stretch, the Warriors (6-5-1 overall) are currently in second place in ECIC IV with a league record of 5-1-1 and are hot on the trail of division leading Lackawanna (7-0-0).

“We obviously still have some work to do, but I stress all season that this is when it all has to start coming together down the stretch,” said Warriors head coach James Gabor.

“Not making those mistakes that we talked about. Working on those things that we try to fix in practice. We play at Newfane on Friday and that will be a real good test to see where we’re at before sectionals. We’ve got a lot of big games left in a couple weeks.”

Beyond Newfane, the Warriors also have Oct. 8th circled when they host Lackawanna at Clinton H. Small Stadium at 10am. A game that could very well decide the league title.

Senior co-captain Dylan Lewis said a pivotal part of bringing the pieces together occurred when the senior heavy team, a dozen 12th graders total, all realized that this was it. Their last season of high school soccer. Their last season to do something memorable on the soccer field.

“I think that mindset has just made us want to work harder. That’s why we’ve been successful, winning the last couple of games,” said Lewis. “We put it all on the field because we know that’s gonna be it.”

Junior Aaron Holler continues to be the Warriors top offensive threat with a team best 10 goals. Noah Gillis has also proven his value with five goals, which ranks second on the team, and a team best five assists.

But its the way things have come together on the defensive side of the field that seems to be making the biggest difference for the Warriors.

Senior Nick Bitter, who plays sweeper, has been the Warriors most reliable player on defense and arguably the team’s steadiest player all season.

“As a goalie, me and Nick Bitter are definitely close on the field,” said senior Adam Moore. “He’s the kind of defenseman where I tell him to do stuff and he’ll get it done. He’ll command that defense and I feel very safe with him playing sweeper. He’s been playing a heck of a season. I’m definitely proud of him.”

The other key factor has been Moore solidifying his job as Tonawanda’s starting goalie. Moore and fellow senior Jordan Kowalewski spent all of last season and the early part of this season alternating in goal. Last season Gabor said the plan was to rotate until one could finally make the job his own.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks Moore has been able to assume the role of No.1 keeper. Though Kowalewski hasn’t done anything wrong, the fact that Moore has been able to establish himself as the true starter has given the rest of the field players a sense of stability because they know Moore’s strengths and tendencies in net. Thus removing any chance of hesitation or second guessing in the game.

Though not an easy choice Gabor said there was obviously value in one guy being the No.1 and that while Moore will certainly do a great job, Kowalewski is doing his best to stay sharp should he be needed.

For Moore, having a more concrete role has improved his confidence and allowed him to play more relaxed. He also said that Kowalewski has been a great teammate and doing his best to help him succeed in net.

“We still definitely help each other big time,” said Moore. “He’s still trying 100% and he’s actually helping me more, too.”

Gabor added that senior Ryan Gardner has been outstanding in his role of playing multiple positions based on what has been needed from game-to-game. “He kinda flies under the radar,” Gabor said.

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