Tonawanda News — One game down, one more to go.
Paula Pinkert notched the hat trick as the Tonawanda Lady Warriors topped Kenmore East 4-1 in the opening round of the Danny Durick Kick-Off Tournament that was played at Clinton H.Small Stadium on Friday afternoon.
The win vaults the Warriors into today’s title game against Wilson at 5 p.m. Wilson punched its ticket to the title game via a 2-1 win over a tough Sacred Heart squad.
The Lady Warriors will attempt to win the Durick tourney for the first time since 2006. Most of the early action took place at midfield, as both teams seemed to be going through a feeling out process to start the game. Pinkert broke through with the first of her three goals — all set up by Kalyn Compeau — midway through the first half when she beat Lady Bulldogs keeper Rose Mueller.
“She’s always wanted a starting forward spot but it just didn’t workout,” Tonawanda coach Julie Johnson said of Pinkert. “She’s played a lot in the midfield and she was waiting for her opportunity and she definitely proved she belongs out there (at forward) for the rest of the season.”
Meghan Thomas used a strong second effort to score the goal that extended Tonawanda’s lead to 2-0. To Mueller’s credit she made at least four big saves that kept Kenmore East in the game.
The Bulldogs cut the deficit to 2-1 with 21:25 left in the game when Meagan Vrooman scored on a PK after Tonawanda was called for a handball.
Losing five starters to graduation, the Warriors knew the door of opportunity was wide open for girls to step up and play bigger roles this year. Pinkert believes they did just that Friday night.
“We lost a lot but we’ve got good girls this year,” Pinkert said. “We have a good team.”
While Pinkert, Compeau and Thomas did an excellent job up top, the big key to the win for Tonawanda was the defensive work on the back end by Caylie Stuart and Chezney Belcher. The Bulldogs moved the ball fairly well through the midfield, but once they got to the 20-marker they had a very difficult time penetrating the Warriors’ defense to create any kind of true threat.
Ken East coach Chris Robey said his team tried to move the ball on the outside to create cross passes. Robey felt his young team did a much better job of finding the outside and moving the ball quicker during the first 20 minutes of the second half.
“We have a young team this year,” Robey said. “If we keep working the way we’re working we’re gonna try and get better every single day. It’s a work in progress.”
A pair of goals by Jacob Choate paced Tonawanda’s 4-2 win over Wilson in the boys’ opening round.
Tonawanda will play West Seneca West in the boys’ title game at 7 p.m. tonight.
Sam Batistella and Jordan Hughes also scored for the Warriors who will be attempting to claim their first Durick title since winning the tournament back-to-back years in 2006 and ‘07. Cory Compeau picked up the win in net