Dominant effort propels girls hockey team to semis
Every once in a while in high school sports, a mismatch so great comes along that the dominant team can’t help but look like it’s a professional squad going up against a group of players just learning the sport, even when holding back from giving a full effort.
That’s exactly the situation West Seneca’s second-seeded girls hockey team found itself in during Monday’s Federation quarterfinal against seventh-seeded Lancaster at the Northtowns Center.
West Seneca did all it could to keep from running up the score, but couldn’t help but score when firing 76 shots on Lancaster goalie Madeline Norton over the course of Monday’s 12-0 victory. It was the first game this season that coach Pete Tonsoline could recall his players posting over 50 shots on the opposition.
“We really were trying to hold back as much as we could,” Ton- soline said. “Their goalie really was the star of the night, facing as many shots as she did. It was just really tough for us, honestly, because with it being the playoffs, you don’t want to bring your game down — there’s still another game to play, and we needed to stay on our game for the future so we don’t have a letdown and don’t ultimately achieve our biggest goal for the season.”
There was little doubt that West Seneca would be moving one step closer to its ultimate goal of playing for a sectional championship after it jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the end of the first period. Erin Gehen scored one goal and assisted on two others to point West Seneca in the right direction early, while Jessica Dolac, Nikki Kirchberger and Molly Sikorski also found the back of the net. Emily O’Shei and Kristen Sikorski (two) also earned assists in the first period.
West Seneca continued to press on in the second period, picking up five more goals to increase its advantage to 9-0 going into the final stanza. Kirchberger scored two more goals, while Gehen added another goal and assist. Molly Sikorski and Brianna Carlin rounded out the scoring, with Jordan Weisenberg, Dolac and O’Shei adding assists. Carlin’s goal was her first of the year.
“I told the girls after the first period that we still had to play the way we have to play,” Tonsoline said. “The playoffs are about momentum, and with our offense flying as it has as of late, I really didn’t want to curtail that. We really need to keep our momentum going in the right direction because each game moving forward will just be tougher and tougher.”
Molly Sikorski, Kathleen Zimmer and O’Shei closed out the scoring with third-period goals, while Gehen (two), Kristen Sikorski, O’Shei and Kirchberger all adding assists.
“Erin Gehen is an incredible goal scorer, but her real strength is that she works tirelessly to get her teammates the puck,” Tonso- line said. “She’s one of the best players I’ve ever worked with. Her hands are like magic.”
West Seneca returned to action Wednesday against sixth-seeded Orchard Park/Frontier — which upset third-seeded Williamsville Monday to reach the semifinals — but information about that contest was not available at press time. If West Seneca was victorious, it will play the winner of the Kenmore-Monsignor Martin semifinal for the championship at 8 p.m. Friday at the Northtowns Center.
“We beat OP/Frontier three times this year, but we’re not taking anything for granted,” Ton- soline said. “We’re looking to keep playing our game so we can keep this remarkable year going.”