By Megan Hartsell
This past Friday was the second round of playoff games for Section VI Girls Varsity Soccer, and our own Lady Eagles took to the field for an especially important game.
After a bye for the first round of games, the number one seeded regular season league champion Lady Eagles geared up to take on Maple Grove, seeded number eight, for the quarterfinals.
In maroon uniforms, team jackets and matching Carhartt beanies, the girls went about the school day with great confidence and pride to be a part of such a special team, ready to take on any challenge thrown their way. There was no doubt about it: everyone shared the common goal of victory, of going to the next round, and the next after that and so on.
After a focused warm-up, the game began in Ellicottville at 3:30 p.m., an earlier start than the team is used to. Maple Grove was the first to score in the 24th minute, which only fueled the Lady Eagles’ fire and desire to win. The team held their ground, playing a strong and aggressive game wearing their hearts on their sleeves, giving more of themselves to the game than ever before.
The fans, comprised of parents, students and of course the ECS boys’ varsity soccer and football teams, kept spirits high for the Lady Eagles and never allowed for a silent moment. The roars conglomerated into one massive “shooba,” which could supposedly be heard all the way from the parking lot.
Near the end of the second half, Alysa Williams scored a goal from an assist by Mandy Hurlburt. Amidst celebration came confusion and heartbreak, as the goal was revoked, the referees claiming that the ball had gone out of bounds.
Unfortunately, the Lady Eagles were unable to score another goal in the limited minutes remaining, allowing Maple Grove to win the match and advance to the semifinals.
Elsa Woodarek, a sophomore and defender/midfielder, explained, “It was a very physical and tough game. The crowd really brought some energy and it was pretty sad when we scored and the goal was called back. But, overall it was a great season!”
For nine teammates, this game would be the last, unbeknownst to them until the final whistle of the game sounded. Megan Stuve, Abby Donoghue, Madisyn Kilby, Megan Hartsell, Brooke Eddy, Evelyn Nuzzo, Camryn Earley, Allison Calarco and Kaitlyn McGuire, all seniors, bid an emotional adieu to their high school soccer careers, which for many had been the highlight of their time at ECS.
“After the game I was heartbroken. Realizing my high school career was over…forever,” shared goalie Brooke Eddy. “I was just so disappointed because I felt our team didn’t deserve the outcome. Although a rough end, I couldn’t be happier with my senior season. Being league champs was a huge accomplishment and I couldn’t be prouder of my team. It is a hard goodbye but I will take away all the awesome life skills I learned from the game, my teammates and coaches.”
The best season of our lives. The closest friends that will last forever. After a painfully unexpected goodbye, the Lady Eagles are preserving their hopes and aspirations for next year. As the old saying goes, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
In other athletics news, the Boys Varsity Soccer team took on Randolph in Eden on Tuesday. The Varsity Football team takes on Salamanca this Friday night.