Tonawanda News — AMHERST — It was wet, rainy and cold Saturday afternoon at Amherst Turf Field for the Class B championship game, but Tonawanda keeper Alanna Herne was scorching hot.
The Lady Warriors were playing in their first Section VI championship game since 2002, and the senior was making big save after big save, keeping Tonawanda in the game against a fast and dangerous Akron team.
But with time winding down in regulation of a 1-1 tie game, Akron’s Erica Papke killed the Lady Warriors’ dream of becoming the first THS team in the modern era to capture a sectional title. Papke dribbled past a pair of Tonawanda defenders and, after a hesitation move near the top of the box, ripped home the game winner past a diving Herne to give the Tigers a 2-1 win with 1:42 remaining in the game.
Tonawanda coach Julie Johnson said Herne was outstanding and gave the Lady Warriors a chance to win the game. She said it was the best game by a THS goalie she’s seen.
“All you can do in a game like this is give everything you can and that’s exactly what Alanna did. She kept us in there,” Johnson said. “This Akron team is really tough — they have a lot of talent and a lot of speed — and she gave her body today. She did everything she could to keep the ball out of the net and keep us motivated, and I couldn’t have asked for more effort out of her today.”
The Lady Warriors (15-5) struck first halfway through the first half. Kristin Carsen blasted a corner kick that bounced twice and bent right into the Akron (17-2-1) net. One minute later the Tigers found the equalizer off the foot of junior Paige Buscaglia, who created scoring chances for Akron consistently throughout the game.
With no score early in the game, Buscaglia broke away from the defense and got in on Herne and was shut down on the initial shot and again on the rebound. She also had a few scoring chances in the second half because of her speed and dribbling ability.
Johnson said she thought her team did a good job containing Akron’s speed.
“All we could do was put forth our best effort and do our best to try and stop them,” she said. “They have a couple really talented players, and I think we did a pretty good job today.”
Johnson gathered all her seniors together after the game to say thank you. She told they were a big part of one of the greatest teams ever at Tonawanda and that she would miss them all.
“I’ve had lot of them since their eighth grade year, so I’ve had the opportunity to be with them for a really long time,” Johnson said. “I’ve watched them grow, get better and lead this team, and they all did that. I told them they were all great leaders and that I couldn’t have asked for a better senior group. I just told them to remember this was a winning season — one of the most successful ones we’ve ever had.”Follow @tonanewssports and sports editor @MattParrino on Twitter for complete high school sports coverage.