You would think they find it routine by now.

Most of the Grand Island girls soccer team have never been anything but Section VI champions, but the Vikings say that it never gets old.

Sophomore Catie Hilliard made sure that streak continued, scoring after a crossing pass from Jessica Remmes with 15 minutes left to play to lift the top-seeded Vikings to a 1-0 win over No. 2 Williamsville East on Saturday in the Class A championship at North Tonawanda.

Grand Island has now won five straight sectional crowns.

“It’s definitely still special — it gets harder and harder every year,” said junior Alicia Barnaby. “Our friends at our school expect us to win, like it’s no big deal, but they don’t understand that it’s still really difficult. Every year, it’s more rewarding.”

The Vikings (20-1-1) advance to next weekend’s Far Western Regional in Rochester against Aquinas, which beat Victor 1-0 Saturday in the Section V final.

Aquinas is responsible for Grand Island’s lone loss this year, and the Vikings will have an opportunity to avenge that 3-0 setback if they want to advance to the state semifinals for a fourth straight year.

The Vikings had their hands full with Williamsville East.

“My girls did what they had to do,” said first-year GI coach Dave Bowman. “They played their game, and eventually they broke through. It might take a while, but you’re not going to shut us out all game long.”

The teams were seeded 1-2 in the playoffs, and they were also the top two teams in the Western New York Coaches Poll — but in the reverse order, which highly motivated the team from the island.

“They knew this was the game of the year because it’s the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in Western New York,” Bowman said. “For the last three months, we’ve been ranked behind them, and I think the girls wanted to make a statement tonight.”

The Vikings had rolled through their sectional competition to date, outscoring opponents 25-0 through their first three games.

But they had a tough time cracking the Flames defense Saturday, playing a tense game that was scoreless most of the way.

“We’re not normally like that,” Barnaby said. “Lately, we’ve been scoring in the first 10 minutes and really putting it away early. So this was very unlike us. It was getting a little nerve-racking at the end, but I was pretty confident that it was going to come.”

Allie Weiser was perfect in goal again, notching her fourth straight playoff shutout behind an air-tight defense.

“We were a little concerned, but we’ve always been able to pull through at the end,” junior Nicole Fischer said. “We have amazing forwards and we have a solid defense, so we knew nothing was getting past us. We figured it was just a matter of time.”

Recommended for you