By David Yarger
On a crisp and cool Thursday at Sparky Adams Field, the Kenmore East Bulldogs defeated the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons, 2-1, to win the Niagara Frontier League title in the league crossover championship.
The win clinched the Bulldogs its 17th NFL title in program history and first since 2008.
The early parts of first half of play were relatively silent, as each team had one threatening chance to score.
For the Falcons, in the 15th minute, Raphael Wence received a pass about 25 yards away from the net and sent his shot just over the crossbar.
For the Bulldogs, John O'Connell sent his breakaway shot high over the crossbar in the 29th minute.
Late in the first half, though, the scoring switch was turned on.
Alexis Leon netted his seventh goal of the season in the 38th minute to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
The lead didn't last long, though, as Kenmore East's Kyle Hofschneider netted his 16th goal of the season right as the halftime horn sounded.
The goal sent both teams into halftime tied, 1-1.
In the second half, Michael O'Connor netted his 12th goal of the season for the Bulldogs to give East a 2-1 lead in the 14th minute of the second half.
The Falcons had opportunities to tie following the goal, but a breakaway attempt by Leon was led too far out in front. Then, in the 22nd minute, Wence took a shot from 30 yards out that just grazed over the crossbar.
Every time the Falcons attempted to put pressure on, a Bulldog defender was in front and limited an N-W chance.
As time ran out, the Bulldogs stormed the field and celebrated their title clinching win.
Following the game, N-W (13-2, 11-2) coach John Coulter said to get to the championship and take a loss was tough.
"We knew there was two good teams playing each other - it was a great game. When you go in it's like a coin toss. It was a very toughly contested game and we had some great plays - they had some great plays - it goes back and forth. This is exactly what I expected," Coulter said.
The Falcons defeated the Bulldogs earlier in the season, but in this game, Coulter said Kenmore East took advantage of their opportunities, whereas the Falcons didn't do so like last time.
The late first half goal by the Bulldogs seemed as a momentum shifter and Coulter agreed, it was tough to overcome.
"That's a tough one to take with four seconds left," he said. "We were still coming off a bit of high after we scored and (we were) just off half a second and they have some good players on their team who can capitalize on net."
Although, not walking away with the second NFL title in program history stings, Coulter said his team will focus towards the Class A1 Sectional playoffs.
"Games like this get you ready for sectionals," Coulter said. "Win or lose, this is the kind of game you want going into sectionals, so I think we're gonna come in rolling."
The boys next game will be determined once Section VI soccer brackets are unveiled.
Jacob Vallas (left) dribbles past Dejan Scepovic of Kenmore East.