Kenmore makes history for girls hockey team with OT win
Senior Alyssa Dollendorf’s goal in double overtime lifted Kenmore to a 2-1 victory over Williamsville and secured a second consecutive Section VI title.
This year, winning the championship also sends the Devil-Dogs to the state championship tournament that will be held in Canton this weekend.
“That’s all I said to them tonight. I went in the locker room before the game and said, ‘win or lose, if you play with heart I can live with that,’” said Kenmore coach Jeff Orlowski. “We don’t show up on the scoreboard as winners I can live with that as long as you show up every shift, and they did exactly that.”
Junior Jill Battista (Kenmore East) was being marked by Williamsville’s Rachel Grampp when she toe-dragged the puck, flung it to Dollendorf (Ken-West) who went five-hole with the game-winner.
Kenmore will now face Section VII Beekmantown in the semifinals on Feb. 8 with the winner taking on either Pottsdamn or Alexandria Bay on Feb. 9 for the state title.
Ending the regular season an impressive 12-5-1, with three of those losses at the hands of the unbeaten Monsignor Martin Association team, Kenmore is ready for its shot at history.
Though it is not officially recognized as a state title by the NYSPHSAA, whether sanctioned or not, bringing home a title would be huge for Kenmore.
“It’s a big deal for our program to (be) the first team from Section VI to go to the state game,” said defenseman Kaeli Mathias who scored Kenmore’s first goal on a wrister. “It’s our second sectional win, which is great for our program.”
A joint team made of girls from the Ken-Ton district, the Devil-Dogs tasted success early when they captured the Section VI title last season in the seven-team league which began in 2010-11.
“Us coaches have always made a point to get the girls to play for each other and have fun while they’re here,” said Orlowski. “Those were our two No. 1 goals this year and its carried over and it allows them to relax and allows them to play within themselves.”
Orlowski, who also coaches the Kenmore field hockey team which is also a joint venture between East and West, said the core of success has been the girls buying into his defense first system.
Strong up the middle, Dollendorf and eighth grader Olivia Smith center the top two lines for Kenmore.
Dollendorf skates on the top line with Battista and freshman Emily King, who leads Kenmore with 22 points, including 12 goals. King, who had just one goal last year, has stepped up to replace the offensive punch Kenmore lost after Kate Miller graduated.
“I think it’s that we all came together,” said KIng. “We all go to different schools but during the hockey season we’re like a family and that helps us play well as a team.”
Smith skates with freshman Lina Mirabella and eighth grader Kara Zelasko.
King and Smith alternate on line three with Hannah Gallivan and Brianna Mathias.
Mathias and Grace Simmons standout as Kenmore’s top defensive pairing while the one-two punch of Lauren Pray and Kaitlyn Simmons keeps them strong between the pipes.
Battista has be vital part of the penalty kill, while Orlowski said Mathias stands out as simply the best all-around athlete, boy or girl, that he has ever coached.
But if there is one girl who has truly pulled Kenmore together and helped this young team believe in itself it’s been Dollendorf.
“Her emotional leadership has been huge,” Orlowski said.
Interestingly enough, Dollendorf, though she had never played field hockey before, came out for the Kenmore field hockey team at Orlowski’s request and began to plant the seeds of a winning attitude in the girls that played for both teams.
“Our younger players they’ve all become used to playing with each other. They understand our system, which is good for our future as a team,” Mathias said.
Beyond the X’s and O’s, the biggest reason Kenmore’s victorious run to this point is that teammates truly care for each other.
“It’s a close-nit bunch of girls,” Orlowski said.” “It’s a pleasure to coach them.”