By Matt Parrino
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The Grand Island soccer team has been the hottest team in the Niagara Frontier League recently, winning five straight games, including a big win over Niagara-Wheatfield to take hold of first place in the league.
But today the Vikings (6-1 NFL) host North Tonawanda (4-3 NFL) — the only NFL team to hand them a loss this season.
Leading the way for the Jacks this season has been Grayson Dolota, who has scored two goals but has played all over the field for NT. Jacks coach Thomas Stefanucci said he moves Dolota around so that he can see the whole field.
“When he came up for me he started at the back and he’s been slowly moving forward,” said Stefanucci about Dolota, who scored six goals as a junior last season. “He’s a great kid and he can be an unstoppable player. I’m constantly on him and if he puts his mind to it and works hard he could play at the next level.”
In a 2-1 win over Kenmore West on Monday, Stefanucci said Dolota played his most complete game of the season. He hopes that effort will help his senior finally find the consistency in his play his coach has been looking for since he started on varsity as a sophomore.
“Against Kenmore West he played a full 80 minutes and he played awesome,” Stefanucci said. “He can take over a game. He’s a real big kid, strong, skilled — he just has to want to do it.”
Dolota thinks the best is yet to come for himself and his team. He said when everybody is focused, the seniors are leading by example and the entire team is giving maximum effort for 80 minutes, the Jacks are a tough team to beat.
“We got off to a pretty good start and then we went through a tough stretch,” Dolota said. “Then we played well against Niagara Falls and got our confidence back. We’ve had a lot of good ball movement recently on and off the ball and we’ve put in a lot of hard work.”
In terms of his personal goals, Dolota said he wants to keep working hard to try and finish out the season as strong as possible.
“I don’t think I’ve had a great season so far. But recently I’ve gotten a boost in confidence,” he said. “I’m hoping to continue and build off that.”
When the Jacks and Vikings met earlier in the season, Stefanucci said it was a pretty even game. He warned his players that Grand Island will most likely be even better today at 4:30 p.m. in the rematch.
If the Jacks want to sweep the season series they will have to withstand an early storm and try to contain the Vikings’ speed.
“I told the guys that Grand Island is going to come at us hard,” Stefanucci said. “They’ve won five in a row since losing to us. They weren’t happy when they left here so I told the guys they’ll come flying at us.”
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