Streak Busters

Frewsburg Hands Maple Grove First Regular-Season Loss Since 2015

Frewsburg’s Raena Bird (5) dribbles with the ball while Maple Grove’s Chloe Kibbe defends during Monday’s CCAA Central Division girls soccer game at Maple Grove Junior-Senior High School. Frewsburg’s Nora Edwards (12) looks on. The Bears won, 1-0, to end the Red Dragons’ 35-game regular-season winning streak. P-J photos by Scott Reagle

Maple Grove’s girls soccer team hadn’t lost a regular-season game since Oct. 14, 2015.

Until Monday.

After 35 straight victories, Frewsburg beat the Red Dragons, 1-0, on a dreary, soggy afternoon on Dutch Hollow Road.

“We personally feel like we can play with anybody. If we play Frewsburg soccer the way that we know we can play, we feel like we matchup well with anybody,” first-year Frewsburg coach Scott Stone said. “Credit to them, they are a great team, but we had every intention of coming up here and winning the game.”

During the streak, Maple Grove was 4-0 in the regular season against the Bears, outscoring them 14-2 in the process. The Red Dragons also beat Frewsburg, 3-0, in the 2016 Section VI Class C semifinals at Dunkirk High School.

Maple Grove’s Alex Daniels (9) dribbles away from Frewsburg’s Kiara Marchincin (1) while the Red Dragons’ Ana Pavlock (14) looks on during Monday’s CCAA Central Division girls soccer game at Maple Grove Junior-Senior High School.

“A lot of the seniors haven’t beaten this team in a while,” Stone said. “We know their record and that they hadn’t lost in the last two years.”

Freshman Kendal Sohl scored her third goal of the season during the 22nd minute of the first half and the Bears weathered a steady Maple Grove push throughout the second half to hang on for the win.

“It’s pretty sensational. It’s hard because I told these girls they have to learn how to win and learn how to lose. That’s why you play sports,” Maple Grove coach Mike Burr said of the winning streak. “Sometimes things just don’t bounce your way. Give Frewsburg credit, they played a great game. I thought we played well in the second half. … You can’t ask for better chances than we got.”

Senior goalkeeper Alyssa Lobb earned her first shutout of the season with 10 saves.

“I thought Alyssa played an amazing game,” Stone said. “She came up with huge saves.”

Frewsburg goalkeeper Alyssa Lobb clears the ball.

The Red Dragons’ previous regular-season loss was a 1-0 Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association West Division defeat in Olean nearly three years ago. Burr’s team played in that same league the previous two seasons as well before moving to the Central Division this year. With more Class C and Class D teams in their current league, it seemed Maple Grove would have an easier go of it this season.

Not so fast.

The Red Dragons opened the season with a 1-0 win over non-league Fredonia where they played just one half before weather forced the game to be called. They then beat league opponent Pine Valley, 8-0, on Friday before running into the Bears.

“It fits more of the competition that we’ll play in sectionals. People underestimate just how good Class C is in sectionals,” Burr said. ” … We have to make sure we’re up for the challenge each and every day because we always have a target on our back.”

Maple Grove came out strong and carried play for the first five-plus minutes before Frewsburg found its groove. Senior Gabby Iuculano had the Bears’ best chance when she hit the crossbar in the 13th minute and a cross from Sohl nearly found the foot of freshman Raena Bird, but was intercepted by Red Dragons keeper Addie Tanner in the 23rd minute.

In the 26th minute, another Sohl cross found Iuculano, but her soft header was gobbled up by Tanner.

Less than two minutes later, Frewsburg scored what would eventually be the game-winner. Bird cut back three times in the middle of the field before sending a through ball to Sohl in the left side of the box. Tanner came off her line a little bit to challenge, but Sohl’s left-footed shot was lofted perfectly over the Maple Grove keeper into the top of the net for a 1-0 lead.

“They started really fast. We just wanted to counter it,” Stone said. “Kendal made an amazing shot and we kind of took over for a little bit after that.”

The Red Dragons had their best opportunity of the first half in the 35th minute when Lobb aggressively challenged and stopped a left-footed shot from Chloe Kibbe. The loose ball found the foot of Maple Grove’s Sydney Greiner, but a Frewsburg defender knocked the shot out of the air and safely out of bounds.

Right from the start of the second half, the Red Dragons carried play. They failed to capitalize on at least three corner kicks.

“The balls were perfect,” Burr said. “They were right across the goal mouth … you just have to make clean contact and not swing at the ball.”

The Bears’ best chance of the second half was a free kick from just outside the top of the box that was narrowly missed by eighth-grader Alexandra Hultberg.

Maple Grove nearly tied the game in the 74th minute when a wet ball was mishandled by Lobb and got behind her. Just before the ball rolled over the line, freshman Peyton Yost got a foot on it and then cleared it to safety.

It was the highlight of a special day for the Bears’ defense, where Yost, junior Rachel Annis, junior Amanda Dilts and sophomore Ava Hultberg played a majority of the minutes and held the talented Maple Grove offense scoreless.

“We live and die with our defense,” Stone said. “We start with the defense and play from the back.”

Frewsburg also did an effective job of limiting senior Clare Crossley’s chances.

The 2016 Post-Journal Player of the Year who followed that 16-goal, 14-assist season with another 16 goals and 15 assists last year never got a grade-A scoring opportunity Monday with Alexandra Hultberg and Bird around her for most of the game.

“Alex played an amazing game. I don’t think she got outplayed,” Stone said. “Credit to Clare, she’s an awesome player and you have to account for where she’s at.”

NOTES: Maple Grove (2-1, 1-1) will host first-place Silver Creek (5-0, 2-0) on Wednesday while Frewsburg (3-2, 2-0) will travel to the Black Knights on Friday. … Tanner made three saves for the Red Dragons.