H.S. Girls Lacrosse: WNY top-ranked Hamburg leads possible trio of finals-bound locals
Frontier, Lake Shore also top seeds in Classes
Hamburg will not be alone among locals in making a push for a sectional title. The Bulldogs have plenty of company from fellow Southtowns teams playing the role of favorite in the tournament.
Frontier and Lake Shore are also just a win away from getting back to sectional title games. The three play Thursday (May 24) as hosts in semifinal round games in hopes of validating their top seeds — Lake Shore in Class C, Hamburg in B and Frontier in A.
However, it’s been Hamburg that has stepped to the forefront not only in this competitive area for lacrosse but also throughout Western New York.
While Frontier and Lake Shore came out the winners as all three played in championship games last season, defending their titles this year may prove quite difficult as the two should be in for extremely competitive rematches in the final. Meanwhile, Hamburg is not only the top-ranked team in the region, but also may have a smoother ride to a title, that’s if the regular season is any indication.
The Bulldogs coasted to a 7-0 mark in league play (13-3 overall) and top seed in the playoffs, with no team from Class B coming within 10 goals. The theme of redemption for this season was formed last year after a heartbreaking loss to Lake Shore in the Class B final. It’s given them that edge to not only be Class B’s best, as they were during last year’s regular season, but also to dominate the field.
“After losing last year, it left a bad taste in our mouths, so the goal this year was to get back there,” said Hamburg head coach Katy Ryan, after her team advanced to the Class B semifinal with a 18-8 win over Williamsville East on May 22. “That’s really been the push — to redeem ourselves.”
A little extra incentive has gone a long way for an already deep Hamburg team with players willing to share the limelight. Leading scorer Amanda Obenshain said a testament to that teamwork is getting the ball on each others sticks for 126 assists on 210 goals during the regular season.
“We’ve never had a situation where our back-ups are almost as good as a our starters,” said Obenshain, who compiled 102 points, including 49 goals, in the regular season. “We just had so much depth this year. It was a big team effort, even more than last year, with everyone contributing.”
Aiding the effort on a team with seven players scoring 14 or more goals has been juniors Megan Mikolajek with 33 tallies and 21 assists and Taylor Wolf with 34 goals and 15 assists. Sophomore Jill Ford and senior Katie Miller have also been big contributors with 27 and 23 goals, respectively. Junior Lauryn Courteau has given the team a big lift in net and senior Andrea Goldbach has done the same in the face-off circle, while senior Kaelyn Gamel leads the team with 30 ground balls.
It also doesn’t hurt that the team and its coach feel more acclimated with each other in 2012. Last year was the former Hamburg High School lacrosse star’s first as a head coach. Ryan came to the program almost directly after graduating from UConn, where she played Division I lacrosse.
“It was my first year and it really was an adjustment,” Ryan said. “Just with their ability and stick skills, the way they’ve come together, you really can’t ask for anything more.”
Frontier and Lake Shore could be in for rematches with teams they split a pair of one-goal games with during the regular season.
Frontier followed up the program’s first-ever title last season with a 12-4 overall mark, including going 5-1 against Class A teams and winning its regular season league title. The Falcons suffered their only league loss to Lancaster, 10-9 on May 9, after having beaten the Redskins by the same score in double overtime on April 25. The potential meeting would be a Class A finals rematch.
However, what was thought to be an inevitable final between the two was called into question when a hot-streaking Clarence beat Lancaster 9-7 in the teams’ Class A regular season finale. The Clarence win gave Frontier the top seed in trying to defend its sectional title.
First, Frontier must get by fourth-seeded Orchard Park on Thursday, May 24. The Falcons will continue to rely on the scoring of seniors Joelle Kaczmarek, who recorded team highs 66 points and 48 goals, Erin Wilcox (39 goals) and Ashley Brandt-Hunter (52 points), along with a defensive unit head coach Tim Myslinski can be proud after it allowed more than nine goals only once, which came in that loss to Lancaster.
Lake Shore enjoyed a similar season to Frontier, also coming off the program’s first title. The Eagles finished with an identical 12-4 overall mark, 7-1 against Class C foes. Their only loss came at the hands of Amherst, 13-12 in overtime, on May 1 after winning the first meeting between the two, 9-8 on April 17. Amherst has won the Class C title six consecutive seasons, while Lake Shore is new to the classification after moving down from B.
“We’ve found that Amherst is as determined as we are,” Lake Shore head coach Hannah Wawrowski said. “I told the girls they were going to be back with vengeance after the first time we played them.”
To advance, Lake Shore must defeat fourth-seeded Eden on Thursday, May 24. The Eagles have been led by senior Vivian Curry, who is tops on the team with 65 points and 52 goals, while sophomore Alie Jimerson is not far behind with 39 goals and 17 assists. Senior Marissa Haring and seventh grader Shayla Scanlan also finished the regular season as 30-plus goal scorers.
The Class A, B and C finals are slated for Tuesday, May 29 at All-High Stadium with the first of three games to begin 3:30 p.m.