DUNKIRK — In the 2021 Section VI Class D girls’ soccer final, it took Ellicottville more than 80 minutes to defeat North Collins.
This Saturday on the Karl-Höppner-Sportplatz in Dunkirk it looked as if the two rivals would need an extra time to determine the section champion. But Ellicottville’s Layla Kerns and Audrey Hurlburt had other plans.
With 50 seconds into play, Ellicottville’s Brooke Butler moved the ball into open space for a final counterattack led by Hurlburt down the right wing. Hurlburt crossed a ball into the box that found the foot of Kerns, who scored the game’s only goal, stunning North Collins and giving Ellicottville their second straight Class D title.
“It was super exciting”, Ellicottville head coach Tammy Eddy had his say on the finish. “Brooke did a super job getting the ball up and getting it to Audrey. Audrey made the decision to pass it on to Layla – it was perfect.”
Ellicottville could have won by more than 1-0 had it not been for North Collins goaltender Hailey Jasinski’s outstanding play. Just as she had done at the net since taking over, Jasinski made several saves to keep North Collins in the game, but this time she couldn’t get the offensive support.
“She’s the leader back there” North Collins head coach Vince Fininzio had this to say about his goaltender. “She puts us in the right positions defensively, keeps us in games and gives us a chance to win games and that was the same today. She kept us in the game today, taking away shots and chances for balls that would come through. We are here because she brought us here.”
North Collins offense didn’t test Ellicottville goaltender Abby Chudy too often, but when it did, Chudy got the chance to make five saves from clean sheets.
North Collins’ best chance came from a corner kick late in the second half, which found its way into the box and was lost in the players’ frenzy. The ball almost crossed the line and could have changed the game, but just before the disaster, an Ellicottville foot shot the ball out of the box to keep the game scoreless.
Both sides relied heavily on counterattacks in their semifinals, but both sides did their homework as the transition chances weren’t easy. Hurlburt managed several breakaways in the semifinals, but North Collins stopped them from breaking through the back line and having to gain more possession.
“I thought we did a fantastic job” Fininzio said about his defense. “We took away the angles and when they got opportunities there we closed the space. For two ninth graders sitting back center and far right, they did really well.”
Even without the breakaways, Ellicottville managed to take some quality chances in the transition. In the 58th minute, Ellicottville was in the same situation as in the win, but instead of Hurlburt making the pass, she took the shot and Jasinski made the jump stop. However, the rebound went straight to Kern’s back door, but the ball bounced just past her hip to make it 0-0.
In the end, Ellicottville got the jump right and finds itself headed back to another Far West Regional against the eventual Section V champion. Last year Ellicottville fell 2-0 to Fillmore and this year it will play against either Class D2 champion Northstar Christian Academy or D1 finalists Keshequa and Genesee Valley-Belfast.
“Just to increase communication”, Eddy said she wants to see her team at the Far West Regionals. “Teams win, individual superstars don’t. That’s what we’re going to focus on.”