In just over a week, the regular season for boys’ and girls’ high school soccer will come to an end.
That means there’s been plenty of time — about six weeks in fact — for Big 30 programs to prove just how good they are, and just how much of a contender they’ll be in the sectional and district playoffs.
If the regular campaign means anything, a number of teams, on both the boys’ and girls’ side of the Big 30, could be a major factor when the postseason begins later this month. In fact, from top to bottom, this might have been one of the most successful seasons for both boys’ and girls’ soccer teams in recent years.
Consider, heading into Tuesday’s matches: among the 28 boys’ teams, 12 have a winning percentage of .636 or better — Allegany-Limestone (10-3, .769), Archbishop Walsh (6-2-2, .700), Belfast (9-4, .692), Fillmore (11-1, .917), Genesee Valley (8-2, .800), North Collins (9-1, .900), Olean High (10-1-1, .875), Port Allegany (12-2, .857), Salamanca (8-3-1, .708), Scio (7-2-2, .727) and Whitesville (8-4, .666) — and 14 are at least a game above .500.
That success has been reflected in the local and state rankings. As of Tuesday, the Big 30 had two teams in the Buffalo News’ WNY small school rankings: Olean High at No. 7 and North Collins at No. 10. And it had three teams in the state poll: North Collins at No. 7 in Class D, Fillmore at No. 8 in Class D and Genesee Valley at No. 16 in Class D.
The girls’ side has been just as impressive.
Among 24 Big 30 programs, eight have an amazing .690 winning percentage or better: Allegany-Limestone (8-2-1, .727), Andover (9-3, .750), Belfast (13-0, 1.000) — the only unbeaten among the 52 teams — Cuba-Rushford (9-5, .642), Ellicottville (10-2-1, .769), Genesee Valley (9-3, .750), Portville (9-3-1, 692) and Salamanca (9-3-1, .692). And 13 teams have at least a .500 record better.
The girls’, too, are well-represented in both polls. In this week’s WNY rankings, Allegany-Limestone checks in at No. 8 while Ellicottville came in at No. 10. In the state poll, the Gators were the 16th-ranked Class C school while Ellicottville and Belfast checked in at Nos. 4 and 5 in Class D, respectively.
For some schools, such as the Fillmore boys’ team or the Ellicottville girls’ team, this year is just a continuation of the dominance they’ve displayed over the last several years. Since 2000, the Eagles, under Jamie Mullen’s watch, have produced an eye-popping 187-39-22 mark with multiple league and sectional titles. At 11-1 this year, even with a rash of injuries throughout the course of the season, Fillmore should be in a position for another deep postseason run come late October.
For others, it’s been a breakout year. The Cuba-Rushford girls, for instance, had a string of 14-staight losing seasons — including a handful of zero, one and two-win campaigns — before winning six of its first eight contests en route to a quality 9-5 mark with a week to go.
Then there’s the case of the West Valley boys’ team. The Wildcats hadn’t fielded a boys’ varsity soccer team since 1996 before finally generating enough interest and numbers to bring it back this season. Even after 16 years away and no experience even at the JV level, coach Kristopher Fuller’s team has had some success, managing a 4-7 record.
Finally, every good team has a number of quality offensive players, and this year has been no different. Here’s a list of the leading scorer’s heading into the final seven days of the regular season:
On the boys’ side, Port Allegany’s Scott Brookens (29) has a one-goal lead over Smethport’s Dario Caminite (28) for the top spot. Following are 3. Carson Harrington (Belfast, 18), 4. Tyler Kittilson (Port Allegany, 16), 5. Joe Grisewood (Genesee Valley, 14), 6. Tyler Landries (Genesee Valley, 13), 6. Collin Young (Olean High 13), 8. Mike Morris (Salamanca, 12), 9. Cody Bly (Bradford High, 11), 10. Kody Miller (Portville, 9), 11. Ethan Graves (Whitesville, 8), 11. Trevor Coleman (Whitesville, 8).
In girls’, Belfast’s Breanna Peavey (19) has a three-goal lead over teammate McKenzie Miller (16), Ellicottville’s Morgan Zlockie (16) and Andover’s Amber Niedermaier. Following are 5. Alyssa Coustenis (Salamanca, 15), 6. Haley Vosburg (Fillmore, 14), 6. Micky Tinnerman (Salamanca, 14), 8. Albanie Stives (Portville, 12), 8. Rebekah Waters (Whitesville, 12), 10. Brittany Fair (Cuba-Rushford, 11), 11. Courtnie Vaughn (Allegany-Limestone, 10), 11. Kate McKeown (Olean High, 10).
(J.P. Butler, a sports writer for the Times Herald, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)