By David Yarger
All postseason, the magic number for the Niagara-Wheatfield boys soccer team has been two. Monday night, the Falcons continued the trend, as the team defeated Williamsville South, 2-0, to clinch the Section VI Class A title.
Following a 2-0 victory in the Class A1 finals over Williamsville East last Wednesday, the Falcons battled with the Billies for the overall Class A title. A battle it was for the first 40 minutes, as either team could make their marks on the scoreboard.
With just over 14 minutes left to play in the game, N-W received a lift from a familiar face.
Senior Jake Vallas, who scored five goals in the three previous playoff games, added to his total with a header that got past the South keeper. Prior to the goal, Wheatfield was getting good looks on net, but couldn’t capitalize. Vallas’ goal changed that and swayed momentum further towards the Falcons.
Another lift came from goalkeeper Josh Morelli, who made a leaping save to keep Will South off the board with 6:45 left.
A little over two minutes after the save, Ralph Wence received a ball in the crease and kicked it past the sliding defender and keeper to extend the Falcons lead to 2-0 and seal a Class A title.
Last Wednesday’s win was technically the Falcons’ first Section VI title in program history, but Monday night’s victory clinched Class A, as well as the team’s inaugural visit to the Far West Regional. At the regional, Wheatfield will face off versus the Section V Class A champion.
As the accolades continue to pile up on the Falcons’ historic season, coach John Coulter said it’s been one incredible run.
“It’s awesome. I’m so proud of these guys. I keep saying what a bunch of great guys they are. Honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered what our record was, but they’ve met every expectation I’ve set out for them. They just seem to rise to every occasion,” Coulter said.
The coach added that the team’s debut in the upcoming Far West Regional game is “unchartered territory for our school,” and “it’s been a long time coming.”
In soccer, sometimes the defense can get overlooked behind all the scoring. Despite all that, the Falcons defense is one to be reckon with, as N-W has given up five goals the entire season (with one being an own goal) compared to 71 goals scored. Coulter praised his defense for the season it’s put together.
“They’re just phenomenal,” Coulter remarked. “I have a sophomore, a junior and two seniors back there and they’re just solid as a rock.”
The Falcons (17-1-1), as of Nov. 4, are ranked No. 5 in New York state’s Class A. They will face the winner of No. 12 Greece Athena versus No. 6 Pittsford Sutherland at Hilton High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8. A win in the Far West Regional will send the Falcons to the New York state semifinals.