SALAMANCA — Junior Ryleigh John scored two goals, but the Salamanca girls soccer team couldn’t keep up with a flurry of second-half goals for Portville on Tuesday afternoon.
After a 1-1 tie at halftime, the Panthers scored twice in the first three minutes of the second half, and added another in the 58th minute to pull away with a 4-2 victory in the CCAA East league finale for both teams.
Panthers coach Jesse Archer said he didn’t think too much changed in the second half, but his team broke through on a few chances after being stopped by Salamanca sweeper Laila Zolner.
Karly Welty scored twice in the second half for the Panthers (10-3-1). Teagan Kosinski and Courtney Lyle also scored for Portville, Harley Robinson had two assists and Welty and Olivia Dean had one assist each. Faith Capito made five saves for the Panthers.
“Their sweeper, a combination of us playing balls just a little too hard through and her being extremely fast,” Archer said, “we never really ... we figured it out a couple times, I guess that's how we got those two quick ones in the second half. But we continued to put her in a situation to get to the balls first and she's extremely fast. I don't know if too much changed (in the second half).
“We were able to make it count when it needed to count, and that's how the game is. We all have opportunities and they usually don't work out, they're just opportunities. We had more opportunities than they did and the chances of them working out means that it worked out for us.”
John’s first goal, a header off a corner kick from Rachel Chamberlain, tied the game with six minutes left in the first half. Mariah Downey assisted the second SHS goal, as John finished at the far post, cutting the lead to 3-2.
Makenzie Oakes made eight saves for the Warriors (9-7).
“I think that (if) we minimize some mistakes, then it wouldn't come down to overtime or a one-goal game,” Warriors coach Michelle Hill said. “So now, this being the last game of the regular season, that's what we've got to work on going into playoffs. We've got to minimize those mistakes that other teams are able to capitalize on.”
In the preseason, Hill and assistant coach Kersten Furlong agreed on doubling last year’s win total (five) as reachable goal. The Warriors would need to win their first playoff game to reach that mark.
“If we were to talk about improvement, and it's not just overall record,” Hill said, “where we ended last season and where our rookies started this season and where we're at now, we've had a very successful season because we've improved tremendously. One of the things I talked about in the preseason was the ability to put the ball in the net. We're one of the top teams in (Section 6) Class C as far as total overall goals. I think there's only one team that is higher than us in the Class C, so we certainly have fulfilled that preseason goal.”
Salamanca honored its five seniors —Aly Hill, Rachel Chamberlain, Emma Fiske, Holly McGonigle and Alexis Palmeri — for Senior Night. It hadn’t quite sunk in for Hill after the game that this was her daughter’s last regular season game.
“It's definitely an emotional one for me,” Michelle Hill said. “I'm a mom of one of the seniors, so it really hasn't hit me yet. I was coach all day and I think it's going to hit me as (a) mother later. But as far as Aly is concerned, she is a six-year starter on the varsity, one of our strongest leaders as far as a teacher in and she's (leaving) big shoes to fill, but we've got a lot of great talent. We saw one of our juniors put the ball in the net two times, a sophomore sweeper who can run anybody down, we have a lot of younger players — freshmen, starting an eighth grader — that we think will fill the void as long as they continue to work in the offseason.”
Portville, meanwhile, earned its 10th win and finished second in the league behind Ellicottville. After graduating six seniors, including star Carley Williams, and losing some key players to injury, Archer said he’s happy with his team’s record.
“I think I'd have to be very happy about that,” Archer said. “It's a new team in a lot of ways and I think that they're overachieving on some levels. Coaches, we always see things that we can do better, we always believe we're capable of doing this and that better. But I guess when you put it that way, we're winding down, looking at a second place in the league and a high-ish spot in the sectionals, that's good news for any team.”