Weekly Feature



2018-09-12 / Sports

Boys soccer team opens season 4-0

Clarence’s boys soccer team has played as if it is in midseason form far ahead of schedule, opening its 2018 season with four consecutive wins — including a pair of shutouts to bookend its start.

The Red Devils’ most recent win came at West Seneca West’s expense on Friday. Quinn Neelon got the first goal of the game early on off a pass from Gehrig Lahti, while Nathan Vesper got his first of the year off a cross from Ross Showalter to make it 2-0. Taha Ahmed, Lahti and Matteo Battagalia each scored to round out the scoring in Clarence’s 5-0 triumph.

Spencer Catalano and Alex Lopez shared the shutout in goal.

“We had trouble finishing numerous chances for a good part of the first half, but we were able to capitalize on those chances in the second half,” coach Mike Silverstein said. “Our back line of Aiden Steck, Colin Jackson, Clay Bowman, Jacob Gajewski and Will Hurwitz helped keep West Seneca to just two shots for the game.”

Clarence came into that contest feeling good about its chances after having taken down Orchard Park by a 3-1 count on Sept. 4. Ahmed put Clarence on the board first off a pass from Tim Ellis, but the Quakers knotted the game up just before halftime. Ahmed picked up his second goal of the game early in the second half off a pass from Showalter, and Lahti’s laser from 25 yards out a bit later gave Clarence the cushion it needed to clinch the victory.

“Our defense, especially in the second half, was great once again and really limited Orchard Park’s chances to score,” Silverstein said.

The Orchard Park game was Clarence’s first since its 2-1 triumph over St. Joe’s in the second round of its annual season-opening tournament. Ahmed took a pass from Vesper five minutes into the game and buried his chance to give the Red Devils a quick 1-0 lead, and though Clarence controlled most of the first half, the Marauders managed to tie the game before the half off a corner kick.

Clarence rediscovered its legs in the second half, controlling possession and creating opportunities that ultimately resulted in the game-winning goal by Showalter. Defenders Trevor Arno, Bowman, Jackson and Gajewski “played great in the second half,” Silverstein said, which prevented St. Joe’s from ever having any good looks to tie it.

The Red Devils were poised to do well in the second round of their tournament after opening their season with a 5-0 victory over Nichols. Showalter picked up the squad’s first goal of the season seven minutes into the contest off a pass from Vesper, but that was all Clarence could muster in the first half as Nichols’ goalie “played well and kept us off the board the rest of the first half by making some excellent saves,” Silverstein said.

Two quick goals to start the second half, however, opened the game up. Lahti first scored off a great shot to the back post and Showalter followed up with his second goal off an assist by Ahmed. Lahti scored his second goal a little after that and Neelon finished the scoring with the last goal of the game, which was called short due to lightning.

Suen and Catalano shared the shutout.

“This is a nice start to the season for us,” Silverstein said. “We have been able to defend really well as a unit and, with some good goaltending, we have been able to keep our opponents off the board. We continue to show some great skill level on offense and our chemistry in the offensive end is getting better.”

Clarence (4-0, 2-0 league) returned to action Monday by hosting Frontier, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Red Devils close out their week by traveling to Lancaster Thursday, and then open another busy week of play Monday by hosting Williamsville North in another crucial league battle.

“We have a big week this week against two very good league opponents in Frontier and Lancaster,” Silverstein said. “As the season goes on, both this week and beyond, it will be even more important for that offense to grow as an attacking unit and, if we are able to finish more of our chances, our confidence will continue to grow.”

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