SALAMANCA — For the first 18 minutes of Thursday’s Section 6 Class D boys lacrosse semifinal, Medina appeared ready to hang with top-seeded Salamanca.
The Mustangs hadn’t let the Warriors pull away, finding an answer each time they threatened to do so to trail 6-4 with 5:53 remaining in the half. But from there, Salamanca flashed the dominance that helped earn it a No. 1 seed and 12-2 regular season record. The Warriors ripped off an 8-1 run from the rest of the first half through most of the third quarter and rode their 14-5 lead to a 17-10 victory.
The Warriors are set to play No. 3 Eden on Wednesday at Williamsville East for an 8 p.m. start after the Raiders defeated Akron 11-6 on Thursday.
Seniors Keelan Seneca (three assists) and Xavier Taylor (one assist) scored five goals each to pace the top-seeded Warriors. Amos Whitcomb chipped in seven points, with three goals and four assists. Ben Miller had two goal and an assist, Ira John had two assists, Nate Kettle scored once and Zariah Armstrong made one assist. Jacob Rozler earned the win in goal.
“This whole last couple days of practice, this was the first time that we've had everybody eligible ... available, I should say, more than anything,” Warriors coach Jamie Pierce said. “It was senior night so we tried to play our seniors, but we've got strong underclassmen that know their role. We know they're going to be focusing on Keelan and Amos as the top point-getters in Class D, but we know it's a team sport and 50-50 ground balls lead to fast breaks and fast breaks lead to goals. If we can keep possession and have possession.”
Salamanca held Medina to seven goals until midway through the fourth quarter.
“We're trying to get them to work more on position and throw the checks when we can,” Pierce said of the Warriors’ defense. “But just knowing — we did some scouting — knowing their shooters and when to play fundamental defense, don't rely too much on your goalie, who stepped up. But as we go further down, we know the competition is going to get a little tougher and stronger and we need to bring our 'A' game.”
For Seneca, the game also meant a chance to say goodbye to Veterans Memorial Park, the Warriors’ home field. Salamanca honored its seven seniors before the game.
“It's just our last game here,” Seneca said. “We've got seven seniors so we all stepped in, like me and Xavier Taylor and Ira John, we all just got in as a team and said, 'It's the last game at home at Salamanca,' we're just like play hard and the rest will follow through.”
Salamanca and Eden haven’t played this season, though they share a handful of common opponents including Akron, Medina, Gowanda and Erie McDowell (Pa.).
“We've got a couple common opponents and the scores are really similar and they stepped up to prepare for this,” Pierce said. “They played a lot of B schools, A schools.
“They play on turf, so they've got a little advantage there, they've got a good faceoff guy, so that's going to be important.
“We're gonna sit down, watch this film, the last couple films and just show them,” Pierce added of the team’s preparation. “Watch the film, correct the mistakes and just be prepared for anything, situationals we've got to practice, go over certain maybe set plays. Our man down unit needs some work, our man up obviously. It's going to be everything pressed into two, three three-hour practices maybe.”