Weekly Feature



2018-06-07 / Sports

Lancaster defeats Orchard Park in girls lacrosse final for 12th title in 14 years

by TAYLOR NIGRELLI Reporter


Jess Notaro of Lancaster battles for possession outside the crease with Orchard Park goaltender Madison Stevens during the Lady Legends 15-6 victory over the Lady Quakers in the Section VI Class A Title Game Thursday at Williamsville North High School. Notaro had two goals for the Lady Legends in the victory. 
Photo by Jake French Jess Notaro of Lancaster battles for possession outside the crease with Orchard Park goaltender Madison Stevens during the Lady Legends 15-6 victory over the Lady Quakers in the Section VI Class A Title Game Thursday at Williamsville North High School. Notaro had two goals for the Lady Legends in the victory. Photo by Jake French The Lancaster girls lacrosse team was briefly knocked off its perch atop Class A in 2017. The Lady Legends lost in the finals to Frontier by one goal, ending a streak of five straight titles.

The team could not wait to get back to the championship game and, subsequently, back on top of Class A. That showed Thursday night when they defeated Orchard Park 15-6 to earn their 12th Class A Section VI Title in the past 14 years.

“We prepared a year for this year,” Lancaster coach Julie Buccieri said. “Last year we lost by one, and we knew we wanted to be on top again. All year long, we were doing offseason tournaments and travel stuff. These girls give us everything they have all the time.”

The Lady Legends jumped out to a 3-1 lead on the strength of goals by Hannah Kirisits, Natalie Lian and Maddie Mazur. But about 12 minutes into the game, lightning struck and play had to be halted until the storm passed. About an hour later, the teams took the field again and continued play.

“The first 12 minutes, we were jittery,” Buccieri said. “We were dropping balls we don’t usually drop. We just had too many turnovers. I think that the hour-long delay, I was nervous it was going to get their focus all messed up. But they did a good job of getting focused right away, getting a new warm up and then getting it done.”

The team came out hot after the break, getting a goal from Jess Notaro to make it 4-1. The score would remain that way for the next six minutes until Orchard Park cut the deficit to 4-2. Stephanie Hernreiter made it 5-2 soon after, but Orchard Park’s Morgan Baxendale would pot one to get the team to within 5-3. That would be the only goal she would score. The Lady Legends defense did a good job of containing one of the area’s top goal-scoring threats.

“We based our whole defense around her,” said Lancaster goalie Peyton Bulera, who had 17 saves. “We knew she was a big threat, we knew she liked to score and she didn’t like to pass a lot. We had Camryn Lucarelli face-guarding her, but I knew I also had to be vocal and talk to them a lot. She wouldn’t stop with Camryn in front of her, she was going to push through.”

Hernreiter and Mazur would each add one goal before half to make it 7-3 Lancaster. Jordan Rokitka and Mazur would each score one early in the second half to run the score to 9-3. Regan Shanahan would fire back with a goal, and the score would remain 9-4 for more than nine minutes.

Hernreiter broke the scoreless streak with her third of the game. Jess Peters fired back for Orchard Park soon after to make it 10-5. But Notaro, Mazur and Lucarelli would each score over the next four minutes to put the game away. Emily Zajdel scored one more for the Lady Quakers while Mazur got her fifth, and Jeannette Szelfer closed out the scoring for Lancaster.

“It really means a lot. It was great to bounce back from last year. We feel amazing about it, it’s great,” Hernreiter said. “I think we really played good as a team. We knew how much this meant for each other, and we played for each other.”

Mazur’s five goals led the team on offense. The performance came one day after watching her father (Dave) coach her brother (Ben) and the Lancaster boys team to their first-ever Section VI Title.

“It was so great, it was a great week, Mazur said. “We knew we could do it. It was a great week in our house.”

While the game was not close for much of the game, the play was fairly even. Orchard Park had possession a good amount of time, and actually outshot Lancaster. The Lady Legends just did more with their opportunities.

“It was such a closer game than the score reflected,” Buccieri said. “Toward the end we were able to really get going. They did a great job against us and tried to limit our best players. That’s a good team over there, and they’re young. Our team just stepped up when we needed to. I am just so proud of them.”

The Lancaster season came to an end Saturday in the Far West Regional when the Lady Legends lost to Penfield, 17-5.

On the other side of things, Orchard Park coach Bridget Callahan was happy with the effort her team gave. It was the third time they saw the Lady Legends this year, and it was by far the best game they played.

“It was a close game, we outshot them,” Callahan said. “Their goalie was on fire. The last two times we played them, we got outplayed. The scores were higher. This score didn’t reflect the game.”

The Lady Quakers did a lot of things well in the final game, but fell short against a team with a lot of talent.

“They’re very talented and very fast,” Callahan said. “Their goalie is very good. We gave them our best shot, that’s the best we’ve played. If we had to work on something, maybe the placement of the shots to get the score a little closer and slow down their fast break a little. But overall, we were happy.”

In all, it was a positive season for the Quakers, who made the final for the first time this decade. They got some impressive performances and had several players honor. Baxendale is first-team All-Western New York. Maddie Stevens and Ryan Iacono were honorable mentions. All three were first-team ECIC All Stars as well.

“We were really happy,”: Callahan said. “The only two team we really lost to were the top two teams in each division. We did drop an extra one to Hamburg, but how could you be disappointed with only losing to the top teams?”

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