Dragons Fall in Semifinal Shootout | News, Sports, Jobs

North Collins’ Kendra Dechow, left, and Maple Grove’s Alexis Hall battle for possession during Monday’s Section VI Class D semi-final soccer game at Dunkirk High School. The Eagles advanced to Saturday’s championship game by defeating the Red Dragons in a shootout. PJ photo by Ashleigh Brown

DUNKIRK — Hailey Jasinski didn’t start the season at the net for the North Collins Eagles girls’ soccer team, but it sure is a good thing that she’s playing there now.

Jasinski made the difference at the net as No. 2 North Collins beat No. 3 Maple Grove 4-3 on penalties to advance to the Section VI Class D final at Karl Hoeppner Athletic Field in Dunkirk.

“It kind of turned our season around” North Collins head coach Vince Fininzio had this to say about Hailey Jasinski. “She didn’t play on goal earlier this year but she’s just a phenomenal athlete. That’s why we won seven games this year because when she’s on the net we could muster enough offense and she kept us in the game.”

It was a battle between the two goalies as Jasinski made 15 saves and Maple Grove’s Megan McGee 22 to prevent either side from finding the scorer’s tally in the rule or the two overtime periods. Then both teams were able to find the back of the net on penalties.

“Megan is a rock solid goalie” Maple Grove head coach Bethany Seastrum said about her goaltender. “She’s tiny, but she doesn’t know that. She’s saved us in more games than just this one…she’s phenomenal.”

Maple Grove defender Alexis Hall punches the ball away from North Collins forward Breanna Kaczanowski during Monday’s Section VI Class D semifinals in Dunkirk. PJ photo by Ashleigh Brown

Maple Grove’s first three scorers, Madeleine Wadsworth, Alexis Hall and Madilyn Seastrum, all scored to really put the pressure on North Collins, who just received goals from Jasinski and Breanna Kaczanowski for Maple Grove’s 3-2 equaliser.

North Collins then dialed it in with a goal from Kierra Puntillo, which Jasinski followed with a huge save to her right that leveled the score. Now it was North Collins’ turn to apply the pressure, and Novalee Schlenker did just that as she gave the Eagles a 4-3 lead. Maple Grove’s final shot sailed just wide of the post, sending North Collins back into the Class D finals.

There would have been no extra time without some defensive heroics, but even with the great goalkeeping effort, Maple Grove’s Hall saved the game. In the second half, North Collins’ Jaylee Jimerson dribbled down the right wing and sent a cross into the box that deflected past McGee and rolled into the net. However, Hall had other plans as she rushed in to save the ball before it crossed the line and eliminated the threat.

“In terms of possession, we banged the ball around quite a bit.” Fininzio said about the possession. “I think both teams played a bit like that, it was ping-pong back and forth. We got a few chances, we just didn’t finish.”

After an uneventful first half, things heated up in the second as North Collins controlled most of the game, but Maple Grove created many dangerous chances on the break.

Some of Maple Grove’s (3-11-1) best chances came from Seastrum, who joined the attack, and Morgan Caldwell’s excellent dribbling down the middle. Unfortunately for the Red Dragons, the multiple chances the two created were all nixed by Jasinski.

“We just couldn’t finish” Seastrum said about the offense. “You have to score goals to win games. We’re very good in attack, we just can’t finish those goals.”

North Collins’ victory (7-7-2) sets up a rematch with No. 1 Ellicottville (11-6-0) in Saturday’s Class D final in Dunkirk.

“I lost some goals but I think we’ve matured this year.” Fininzio said about this year’s team. “I play a lot of ninth graders and my seniors have stepped up. We’re going to go out and fight for 80 minutes – hopefully it’s 80 minutes – and we look forward to being back.”

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