GIRLS SOCCER: It’ll be No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the Class BB title game.
There hasn’t been one since 1979, far before any of the current Red Raiders were born.
But the Palmyra-Macedon girls soccer team is poised to bring home the school’s first sectional title in the sport since many of their parents were their age.
Taylor Wingerden, arguably the most dominant soccer player in Section 5, male or female, is a big reason why.
Despite a frantic triple-team defensive scheme applied by No. 4-seeded Midlakes, the four-year starter still managed to break free once to produce the game-winning goal in Tuesday’s Section 5 Class BB semifinal.
Wingerden took a perfect through-ball from sophomore Allison Blazey and sliced in her Section 5-leading 45th goal with 15 minutes left in the first half to give No. 1-seeded Pal-Mac a 1-0 triumph.
“It’s always tough playing like that, but throughout the entire season I’ve had defenders all over me,” said Wingerden, whose Red Raiders are ranked No. 3 in the state. “Getting triple-teamed gives me no time playing with the ball, so I basically have to give it up and make a run. It’s out of my element giving the ball up one touch every single time.”
On the pitch adjacent to Corbit Field in Victor, the Screaming Eagles were fueled and fired for an upset. Right from the opening whistle, all focus was on Wingerden and bottling the elusive scoring machine. Midlakes’ plan was executed perfectly and for the first 25 minutes, Pal-Mac coach Mike Karns could only watch and scratch his head.
“We didn’t play that great,” Karns said. “We were a little flat tonight for some reason, and I don’t know why. We didn’t have a great practice (Monday), so I’m not sure what’s going on. It’s got to be mental, but whatever it is, we need to play better. Our defense did play great, though. (Brittany) Pritchard had a heck of a game in goal.”
Though unsatisfied, Karns’ Red Raiders improved to 17-1 this fall, which is a new school record for wins in a season. Pal-Mac is 33-3-1 over the last two years, also a record, and logging her 12th shutout of the season, junior Pritchard bettered her own school record.
“Our success is based on a combination of things, like only giving up eight goals this year and many kids stepping it up,” Karns said. “Pritchard has been great in goal, and obviously Taylor scoring as many goals as she has; no one expected that. Mary Bruton has been awesome this year. She has the school record with 17 assists in a season and is tied for most assists in a career with 39. Emily Maul and Jami Wolverton have been great outside mids for us, too.”
Though the Screaming Eagles, who finished the season 10-7-1, played stellar defense, the Red Raiders were wardens of the pitch. Midlakes barely had any shots, as Pritchard finished with just two saves in the Red Raiders’ 12th straight win.
Page 2 of 2 - “We didn’t play our best tonight and I know we can definitely play better, but Midlakes is a pretty big rival of ours and they played good,” said Wingerden, who is six goals shy of tying the Section 5 record. “We’ve been off the field a lot only having two games and five days off in the last two weeks. In the finals, no matter who we play, it won’t be a walk in the park for us. We’ve got to do better.”
Pal-Mac, which logged its ninth straight win over Finger Lakes East-rival Midlakes, will play No. 2-seeded Livonia (13-5) in the Class BB finals at 6 p.m. on Friday. The site has yet to be determined.
The Red Raiders, ranked second in Section 5 with a school-record 81 goals, last played in the finals in 2005, losing to Hornell 3-1.
Livonia beat No. 3 Hornell 5-0 yesterday.
Dan Enright can be reached at (585) 394-0770 ext. 272, or firstname.lastname@example.org