Springville-Griffith Institute girls varsity soccer upsets East Aurora
East Aurora is also No. 3 in the New York state polls.
Earlier in the season, Springville-Griffith Institute lost 2 – 1 at East Aurora on Sept. 2, in a game that junior Dakota Nesselbush called “very frustrating.”
With the regular season nearing its end and the playoffs quickly approaching, East Aurora was the only team ahead of Springville, when The Buffalo News’ division standings were released on Oct. 16.
Seven senior girls were playing their last, regular home game of the season on Oct. 16, when the Lady Griffs took on the East Aurora Blue Devils. The teams closed the first half, with the game deadlocked at 0 – 0.
“The first 40 minutes were played as an adjustment period,” said Coach Eric Holler. “Playing tight defense was our No. 1 priority and [to] try and steal a goal on the counter-attack. The previous time we played at East Aurora, they played solid, defensively.”
Midway through the second half, senior keeper Katie Zielen-Ersing made a save with an East Aurora forward unloading a shot yards away from her, to keep the score knotted at 0 – 0. Moments later, the Lady Griffs struck, for the first goal of the game, off the sliding leg of Tia Woodarek.
“Dakota sent a well-played ball to [twin sister] Alena,” Tia Woodarek said. “She played the ball in front of me where I needed to be, and I had to slide to put the ball in the back of the net.”
After a slew of East Aurora chances, including three corner kicks in the later stages of the game, the defense and Zielen-Ersing propelled Springville to a 1 – 0 win against East Aurora.
“We knew we had to play a complete 80 minutes to beat them and that’s what we did,” Holler said. “Seeing as it was tied at the half, we were able to take some more chances and it paid off. We were more physical, aggressive and just the better team for the last 40 minutes, and that’s what got us the win.”
Woodarek is among the top scorers in Section VI this season, along with her sister Alena. Alena Woodarek is currently at 21 – 15 – 55 (goals, assists and points), with Tia Woodarek behind her, with 20 – 13 – 53. Woodarek added another goal to her season total, with her sliding goal midway through the second half.
“It felt really good to connect with my twin to finish and deliver for our team, when we needed a goal,” Woodarek said. “The past four years on varsity, we never could get a win against East Aurora. It was a great win for us.”
Alena Woodarek applauded East Aurora’s soccer program, crediting this win in building confidence for the Springville team, in preparing for the playoffs.
“East Aurora is a very well-coached team,” she said. “They aren’t ranked second because they win easy games or get cheap goals. They work persistently, until the final whistle blows. Beating them took more than a team: It took a family. With playoffs coming up, we are definitely feeling more confident, yet we know that, in order to keep winning, we must be humble.”
Holler said that Zielen-Ersing “played extremely well. She denied some opportunities in the first half, which were great motivation for the rest of the team.”
With this shutout, Zielen-Ersing increased her season total to six. “None bigger than this one,” Holler added.
Player Hannah Gerber said that, due to the game’s being held on senior night, the last regular season home game of many girls’ high school careers, this match will stick with her, for a long time.
“I couldn’t ask for a better team to share that victory with,” that player said. “We’re a team with a lot of heart, integrity and determination. I’m glad I could celebrate that win with them by my side. I’ll never forget it.”
The win puts Springville in a tie for the division lead at the moment, but the Lady Griffs still have to play league opponent Pioneer, and East Aurora will play Maryvale.
If both teams win their final games, the division title will go to the Griffins, due the advantage they hold in goal differential.
Either way, the Lady Griffs will earn a high seed in the playoffs, which begin next week.