Full Of Confidence
Frewsburg Rolls Into Class C Final With 4-0 Shutout Of Portville
DUNKIRK — Frewsburg’s well-oiled machine ran to perfection again Tuesday evening.
Temperatures in the mid-40s, 20-mph winds and driving rain were no match for the Bears.
Neither were the Portville Panthers.
Four different players scored goals and No. 3 Frewsburg allowed just two shots on goal in a 4-0 shutout of No. 2 Portville during a Section VI Class C semifinal at Dunkirk High School’s Karl Hoeppner Field.
“We came and we were prepared. We won a championship in worse conditions than this two years ago,” Frewsburg head coach Scott Stone said. ” … We are not letting any weather stop us. If you want to win a championship, you have to play in weather like this.”
Now the Bears will play for their third straight sectional championship at 1 p.m. Saturday back in Dunkirk. Their opponent will be No. 4 Wilson, which beat No. 1 Holland/West Valley 3-1 in Tuesday’s second semifinal.
“We’re going to sit back and enjoy the win. We aren’t scared of anybody,” Stone said. “The road to the sectional championship goes through us.”
Frewsburg’s defensive quartet of seniors Peyton Yost, Reagan Chitester and Rachael Kehrli and junior Jacey Cappa touched the ball more than they have needed to in almost any game this season, yet still didn’t crack, teaming up with goalkeepers Cadence Rodgers and Braelyn Stelmack for the Bears’ third straight shutout and 15th in the last 16 games.
“We know exactly who we are and we know the exact type of game we want to play. They are calm, they are collected and they are experienced,” Stone said. “We gave up two shots and no real chances. When they play like that we are tough to beat.”
The New York State Sportswriters Association ranked Frewsburg No. 12 in Class C entering this week while Portville was No. 3, and the Bears played like a team out to prove something.
In the 25th minute, Frewsburg took the lead when senior Raena Bird sent a cross into the box that bounced once before it was headed high into the net by junior Ashlyn Samuelson.
“Just a huge play,” Stone said. “Twelve months ago in the sectional final, Raena Bird found Ashlyn on the same exact cross. This one was an even better header. She knows where to be, she steps up in the big moments. What a huge header to get us up 1-0.”
The Bears tacked on their second goal in the 33rd minute. Senior Tyra Clark raced down the sideline before sending a left-footed shot on net. The ball skipped along the wet turf and under Portville keeper Mackenzie Harmon. With a loose ball sitting perilously close to the goal line, Frewsburg freshman Ava Jimerson beat her defender to the ball and tapped a sliding attempt into the net for a 2-0 lead.
“When you are playing on a team that has won two straight championships and everybody is good, as a freshman you have to want it,” Stone said. “That kid wants it. … She is fast, she’s aggressive, she doesn’t let the ball out and she makes good things happen. She gets gritty goals because she works extremely hard.”
With the wind at their backs in the second half, the Bears controlled play, rarely allowing the Panthers to even possess the ball in the offensive end of the field.
“They are the No. 3 team in the state … so we wanted to keep our foot on the gas. We figured they’d come out and try to play tough in the second half. We feel like we are a second-half team as well,” Stone said. “We wanted to pick it up, we didn’t want to just cruise to victory. We wanted to dominate play and dominate possession.”
In the 48th minute, Frewsburg effectively put the game away. Junior Alexandra Hultberg — the 2020 Post-Journal Player of the Year — turned on her defender and was taken down inside the 18-yard box for a foul. Chitester stepped up for the penalty kick and beat a diving Harmon low to her left for a 3-0 lead.
“You have to account for where No. 11 is at on the field. Alex demands attention. Whenever we get her the ball in the box things can happen and people have to put bodies on her,” Stone said. “It was a huge play for her to draw that foul and for Reagan to put us up 3-0.”
Hultberg tacked on her team-leading 18th goal of the season after taking a pass from freshman Taytum Jimerson and powering a 33-yard drive off Portville reserve goalkeeper Cadence Zalwsky’s hands and into the back of the net in the 66th minute.
“Any time she gets the ball that deep,” Stone said, “she’s a threat to score.”
In 2019, Frewsburg lost in the Class C Far West Regional and last year the Bears never got a chance at redemption because there were no state playoffs after their sectional title. On Saturday, they’ll have an opportunity to advance and show the rest of New York state that their No. 12 ranking is a little too low.
“We’re the two-time champs,” Stone said, “and if somebody wants that patch they are going to have come steal it from us.”
NOTES: Holland/West Valley led the second semifinal 1-0 after Ava Linder’s first-half goal. After halftime, Lily Avery, Leia Cloy and Madelaine Schultz each scored a goal, all in the final 10 minutes. … Isabella Lemke made 12 saves in net for the Lakewomen.