WEBSTER — Despite being the defending Class AA champion with a decent amount of talent back, the Victor girls soccer team was never ranked higher than third this fall in the Democrat and Chronicle’s large-school coaches’ poll. “Coach (Kelly) Ahern really loves to fly under the radar,” junior defender Jojo Leonardo said, “and surprise everyone.”
Those who follow local girls soccer closely may have thought it would finally be Fairport’s year or Webster Schroeder’s turn to hoist the Section V trophy. But there they were again on Saturday night, those Victor Blue Devils, leaving no doubt that in this tournament, they were the best. The No. 2 seeds got goals from four different players and handled No. 4 Penfield with relative ease, winning 4-1 at Schroeder High to capture a second straight Class AA crown. Victor (15-3-1) plays the Buffalo-area champion in Friday’s 6:30 p.m. Far West Regionals, or state quarterfinals, at State University of Geneseo.
“I think we heard all year (long) that a lot of people were doubting us,” senior forward Kaci Messier said. “We all knew that. Our coach said that to us. I guess we just used that as motivation to work even harder … and prove everybody wrong.”
Lauren Buddendeck (ninth minute) and Molly Williams (35th) scored first-half goals to stake Victor to the lead. Penfield’s Meghan Carroll rattled a shot off the football crossbar, which is a couple feet above the soccer bar, about 10 minutes after intermission. That could have gotten the Patriots (9-7-3) right back in it. They rallied in the second half of Wednesday’s semifinals to stun top-seeded Fairport, 3-2, in double overtime, while Victor held off No. 3 Webster Schroeder, 4-2.
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Messier calmly slotted a 16-yard shot past goalie Jessica Pegg, waiting patiently for her defender to commit, to make it 3-0 with 24:44 remaining. It was Messier’s team-leading 17th goal and it was key because sophomore Rebecca Rolland scored for Penfield 4½ minutes later. Had Messier not connected, the score would have been 2-1 and the final 20 minutes could have been awfully interesting.
As it turned out, Lauren Faillace nearly made it a one-goal game with 15:48 to go, but the hero of the semis — she scored the winning goal from 20-plus yards — couldn’t get much on a shot in front when she was all alone with Victor goalie Hannah Hartman, who made the easy save.
“We knew they were an explosive offensive team. They’ve scored a lot of goals this year,” Penfield coach Libbie Tobin said. “We just had some breakdowns in the back. But I’m really proud of our girls’ effort. They hung tough.”
Sophomore Sam White added another insurance goal to make a three-goal cushion with 4:13 to go.
“(Penfield) was not going to give up. We just had to go harder. We had to go stronger and we had to play like it was going to be the last game that we ever played,” Ahern said, “and I think our kids showed up and did that.”