Pete Kuehne had a feeling his team’s up-tempo, possession-style play would translate well to the turf surface. Turns out the veteran Grand Island boys soccer coach was right.

The second-seeded Vikings controlled play throughout, cruising past No. 2 Cheektowaga 3-1 in a Class A semifinal at Howe Field on Tuesday. GI (15-1-3) will play for the championship at 3 p.m. Saturday against top-seeded Williamsville South, which needed overtime to dispose of No. 12 Lewiston-Porter in the first semifinal.

“We looked comfortable out there on the turf,” Kuehne said. “I think it actually opened some more things up for us.”

GI applied constant pressure in the opening half, finally finding the back of the net just past the midway point. Karl Albrecht battled through a pair of Cheektowaga defenders before sneaking the ball past Warriors’ goalkeeper Jon Klein.

Less than 10 minutes later the lead went to 2-0 when Kolby Banker made a pretty pass to Bobby Ross, who buried it in the lower left corner.

“That was a perfect ball right to my foot,” said Ross, the team’s top goal scorer.

In the waning seconds of the first half, GI goalkeeper Jeremy Figler came up with a big save to preserve the two-goal lead.

“Early in the year we had a problem with starting slow, but we went out looking to make a statement. We shut them down early,” explained Figler, who lost his bid for a 15th shutout this season when Cheektowaga’s Dominic Parisi scored on a penalty kick with 3.7 seconds remaining in the game.

Christian Gibson rounded out the GI scoring when he put in a header six minutes into the second half.

“We’re happy we won, but we really want to win Saturday,” Banker said.

1-Will. South 3, 12-Lew-Port 2 (OT)

The Lancers’ Cinderella run came to an end when Max Mangold jammed home a goal off a corner kick in the third minute of the first overtime.

“In a scrum like that it’s just a lucky bounce that does you in,” Lew-Port coach Sam Ricotta said.

Lew-Port got down 2-0 just 19 minutes in thanks to the right foot of the Billies’ Zack Schwartz, but battled back from then on.

P.D. Polley got the Lancers within one early in the second half and then with 16 minutes remaining Tyler Diez netted the equalizer. Diez’ goal was set up by the hard work of Frankie Valente, who fought off three South defenders to get a shot on net.

The Lancers, who knocked off No. 5 Riverside and No. 4 Iroquois on their way to the semifinals, finished the season 7-10-2 overall.

“These guys are warriors and they proved it again tonight,” Ricotta said. “My guys battled hard through a lot of adversity this year. It was a great year and I’m very proud of them.”

Contact reporter Nate Beutel at 282-2311, ext. 2262.



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