Several sectional crowns were earned this fall by Catholic high schools in the diocese, including a stirring run by McQuaid Jesuit boys’ soccer that brought the Knights all the way to the state final.
McQuaid won its first-ever Section 5 championship, earning the Class AA crown with a 3-2 overtime victory over Webster Thomas on Nov. 4. The Knights knocked off three more opponents to reach the state Class AA title game, in which they were stopped 1-0 by Shenendehowa on Nov. 20. McQuaid’s final record was 20 wins, 3 losses and 2 ties.
In boys’ volleyball, McQuaid stayed unbeaten throughout the regular season, then gained the Section 5 Class A crown with a 25-22, 25-22, 25-21 win over Penfield on Nov. 8. The Knights’ season ended in state tournament play, when they were eliminated 19-25, 26-24, 31-29, 25-19 by Hamburg of Section 6 on Nov. 12. McQuaid finished with a 22-1 mark.
Also earning a sectional title was Aquinas Institute girls’ soccer, thanks to a 1-0 win over Victor in the Section 5 Class A final on Nov. 5. The Little Irish (15-3-4) were then eliminated in a state quarterfinal game by Grand Island of Section 6, falling in a shootout after playing to a 1-1 tie on Nov. 12.
Other post-season success came from Bishop Kearney, Our Lady of Mercy and Elmira Notre Dame, which earned sectional girls’ tennis titles in team and individual competition.
The Knights claimed their school’s inaugural sectional soccer title in heart-stopping fashion. The overtime victory over Webster Thomas in the Class AA final was achieved through the heroics of Dave Vogt, who scored the deciding goal with only 1:12 remaining in the second and final overtime. That followed a key goal by Joey Mort that tied the score at 2-2 with less than two minutes to go in regulation. Conor O’Leary’s first-half goal accounted for the Knights’ other score. McQuaid was seeded No. 1 for the tournament and Thomas was the second seed. The Knights’ previous sectional victories were 2-0 over No. 8 Greece Arcadia in the quarterfinal round and 1-0 over No. 5 Irondequoit in semifinal play.
Following the sectional title win, the Knights advanced deep into the state Class AA tournament: 2-1 over Brockport in a state qualifier game on Nov. 8; 1-0 over Lockport of Section 6 in quarterfinal play on Nov. 11; and 2-0 over White Plains of Section 1 in a semifinal game on Nov. 19. Goal-scorers in these victories included Nick Spezio and Josh Faga against Brockport; Nick Pugliese against Lockport; and Dave Vogt and Yannick Prescod against White Plains to break a 0-0 halftime tie. Goalie Joe Marino turned in stellar play during the three victories.
The state championship game, played at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, saw a narrow loss to Shenendehowa of Section 2, with the game’s only goal coming in the first half by the Plainsmen’s Matt Pentkowski. The narrow defeat ended McQuaid’s run of six straight post-season wins.
With their sweep of No. 3 seed Penfield, the top-seeded Knights successfully defended their sectional Class A crown in a rematch of last year’s finalists. A.J. Nally led the Knights on Nov. 8 with 19 kills to earn tournament Most Valuable Player honors.
McQuaid had earned its way into the final by winning 25-5, 25-16, 25-15 over No. 16 Canandaigua in the opening round; 25-12, 25-15, 24-26, 25-16 over No. 8 Rush-Henrietta in the quarterfinals; and 25-23, 25-20, 22-25, 25-18 over No. 4 Gates-Chili in the semifinals.
McQuaid’s season was ended by Hamburg in state play despite the Knights’ victory in the opening contest; they were swept in the next three games.
Over the past two seasons the Knights have posted an incredible 45-3 overall record while winning their two sectional titles.
AQ, which came into sectionals as a No. 3 seed, reached the championship round by winning 4-0 over No. 6 Brighton in the quarterfinals and 1-0 over No. 7 Honeoye Falls-Lima in semifinal play.
Then came the title-game win over No. 1 Victor, as Erica Henderson’s goal midway through the second half stood as the contest’s only goal. Goalkeeper Natalie LaVigne recorded the shutout.
In the state quarterfinals, Henderson gave AQ a 1-0 lead early in the second half. Grand Island tied the game to force overtime and then won 3-2 in the shootout.
Aquinas’ latest sectional championship continues a dominant legacy that has seen the Little Irish win nine sectional crowns over a 10-year period. The Little Irish also earned state titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
* Mercy girls’ tennis won the Section 5 Class BB title with a 4-1 victory over Honeoye Falls-Lima. The Monarchs’ first singles star, Holly Phillips, went undefeated during the regular season and advanced to the state tournament’s second round before being eliminated.
* Notre Dame girls’ tennis doubles team of Taryn Lindquist and Kate Doyle won the Section 4 state qualifier, posting a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Binghamton Seton Catholic’s Ellie Garbade and Leigh Oczkowski in the final.
* Bishop Kearney girls’ tennis won its first-ever Section 5 title, edging East Rochester 3-2 in the sectional final. BK was led in the championship match by singles victories from Jenelle Jones-Mitchell, Molly Slifer and Susan Cardinali.