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Grand Island clips Niagara-Wheatfield in NFL girls soccer title match

by yarger
Fri, Oct 12th 2018 12:15 am
The Niagara Frontier League champion Grand Island Vikings. (Photo by David Yarger)
The Niagara Frontier League champion Grand Island Vikings. (Photo by David Yarger)
DiCarlo goal clinches fifth-straight league title for GI; league win streak up to 74
By David Yarger
Tribune Editor
In last year's inaugural Niagara Frontier League Crossover Championship girls soccer game, the Grand Island Vikings defeated the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons, 2-0. In 2018, the two met again in the same game, with Grand Island, once again, walking away victorious, 1-0.
The victory is the Vikings' fifth-straight NFL title and 74th consecutive league win.
The game was a typical matchup between the rivals; a lot of defense and pressure. Early in the first half, Grand Island's Mikayla Robinson had a free kick that almost gave the Vikings the lead, but it was tipped by Hannah Wilson, the keeper of Niagara-Wheatfield, and sent over the crossbar.
For Niagara-Wheatfield, its best chance came in the 28th minute when Samantha Maghrak sent a 30-yard kick toward the net, but GI's Sam Bailey saved it with ease.
After a scoreless first 40 minutes, the Falcons had the first three opportunities to score in the second half, but none were converted.
Grand Island took the lead for good with under 13 minutes left to play. Robinson sent a free kick from about 20 yards away, and it went in-and-out of Wilson's hands to Eve DiCarlo, who was on the spot to kick it in on the bounce to make it 1-0 Vikings.
With under 10 minutes to play, the Vikings dodged offensive chances from the Falcons' Erin Weir. Within a minute, Weir sent two shots just wide, with the first sliding by the keeper's left side and just missing the post.
The Vikings were able to avert any other pressure and survive to win the program's 15th NFL title since 2000.
Of the win, Grand Island coach Dave Bowman said it was nice, because he's recognized talent in the NFL is getting better and better.
"It's good, because the teams across the NFL are raising the level," Bowman said. "You look at the section right now and there's NFL teams right at the top - I think there's three at the top-five or six in Class A."
Bowman credited the Falcons and said, "Wheatfield is one of the best teams around. We saw that in the first game we played them, we saw that throughout the season and they're just a fantastic team. Great coach, great players.
"They know they have talent ... and I think it starts with the coach. They've got talented players and the coach just believes in them and really encourages them. He's a class guy on a class team. ... Every time it's going to be a battle."
Along with the five straight titles, the Vikings also finished off its fifth straight undefeated league season. Bowman said every year his team consistently buys in to the winning tradition of working hard and working together.
Falcons coach Pete Cerney said he didn't get a good angle to view the GI goal, but said things like that happen in the sport.
"Looked like a bad bounce and it fell their way," Cerney said. "That's the way the game's played. It could've went the other way many other times, too, and that's just the way it turned out."
The Vikings have been a constant thorn in the side of the Falcons, defeating the team for several years in each matchup. Cerney admitted it's frustrating to be that close and not pull out a win against the Vikings sometimes.
"It's aggravating in the way that we keep falling a little short, but we know we can beat them every time we step out onto the field, and that goes a long way in the long run. ... It's gonna happen one of these times," Cerney said.
He reminded his team after the game that the loss isn't the end of things for the Falcons, as the team will focus its attention the Section VI Class A1 playoffs.
"I told them right after the game that they played really well and to keep playing that way. We're not gonna change the way we play. If we play that way throughout sectionals, we're going to have good results," Cerney said.
The Falcons were looking for its second title in program history and first since 1988.
Both teams will head to the Section VI Class A1 playoffs. Grand Island will be the No. 1 seed. The team's next game is to be determined once sectional brackets are revealed.

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