As we look back on fall sports at Williamsville South High School, Billies feel mixed emotions about the season. Some teams may be ecstatic with what they produced but others are feeling disappointment in their subpar performances this year. No matter what, every team should be proud of what they accomplished this season.
The girls finished the year with a 4-5 record. Coming off of a winning season in 2014, the lady Billies could not carry their level of play into this year. Although they ended the year with a losing record, the girls felt like they had a pretty strong season. Senior captain Cassie Special, when asked how her last season with the team went, explained “I think we really came together as a team by the end of the season. Most of the girls were new and everyone was unfamiliar with each other in the beginning but by the end of the season we became a close team.” Kimmie Podgorsak, the other senior captain also added her opinion on the season, “It was an interesting season with many ups and downs along the road but we really pulled together and had a strong finish in the end. “ The girls put their losing season behind them and both told me how close the team was. Podgorsak told me that next year will most likely be a rebuilding year for the team after losing some starters. The team will look for new players to step up and hopefully lead to an improved record next year.
After a strong regular season with a strong 12-6 record, the girls went into the playoffs with high hopes. The Lady Billies had big regular season wins against Williamsville East, Hamburg, and Sweet Home. They drew Maryvale in the first round of the sectional playoffs and handled them easily winning 6-2. The one team that stood in the way of the girls extending their season was Williamsville East. Any South vs. East game is big but a second round playoff game made it even bigger. Having split the regular season games with East it seemed that this game could really go either way. Unfortunately, on October 22nd, the girls were beat by Williamsville East by a score of 3-0. The loss was bittersweet coming at the hands of our rivals but the girls had an outstanding season which was proved by their strong record. The team lost a handful of seniors but will still have plenty of young talent that can be capable of carrying the girls deep into the playoffs in 2016.
The boys soccer team did not have as strong of a season as they’re used to having, but an 8-5-3 overall record is still a great outcome. The boys played together as a team having ten players score at least one goal and having ten players assisting at least once. Talented junior Jared Burns led the team in assists with nine. The top goal scorer was sophomore Abdul Salem with nine goals. Close behind him was senior captain Noah Smith with eight goals. Heading into sectional playoffs the team drew a tough first round game against their rival Sweet Home, who finished the year with a 7-4-1 league record. The scoring started early when the Billies took a quick lead 8 minutes in on a goal from Noah Smith. Sweet Home then scored two unanswered goals to put the Billies down 2-1. South had plenty of chances in the late stages of this game but could not pull off another goal. During this game the Billies lost senior defender Paul Gettman to a dislocated shoulder, so the Billies were playing with a back up in front of goalie Justin Klas. Sweet Home went on to play Grand Island in the next round and lost 4-0, ending their season. When I asked senior captain and solid defender Nick Bartelo about his senior season, he told me “My senior season was really fun. We didn’t get the results we wanted but the team was closer than we have ever been and that meant a lot.” Nick was optimistic about the future adding “I think we have a large majority of the young players coming back who will work hard to win every game. There is a lot of potential for South soccer, especially in the next year, to relive how far we went in the past.” South certainly hopes this is true as the boys prepare for next year.
The Field Hockey team had a spectacular year finishing with a 15-2-1 overall record. They beat teams that South hasn’t beaten in field hockey in a very long time. Junior captain Abby Ferenczy felt great about the success that her team had this season “It was a great feeling winning game after game and beating the teams we always lose to.” Heading into sectional playoffs with high expectations, they started off against a tough Hamburg team in the first round. They ended up winning this game by a slim margin of 1-0 and advanced to the second round against Amherst. The girls played a great game against the tough Amherst team but unfortunately fell short in overtime by a score of 2-1. Ferenczy said “…The team was bummed when we came up a goal short in the game against Amherst.” Even thought the girls were disappointed with their playoff loss, they were proud of what they accomplished throughout the year. The Billies will have plenty of returning talent next year and should bring back an exceptionally strong team once again.
The girls volleyball team had big expectations to live up to after winning states last year. This year, they unfortunately didn’t repeat, but still finished with an impressive 7-3 league record and a strong 15-5 overall record. Going into the playoffs, the team had potential to do great things, but they also had potential to disappoint. They did not disappoint. In the first round the girls faced off against West Seneca West. The first two games were dominated by the lady Billies with a score of 25-6 and 25-9. It looked like it was going to be an easy win in three sets. West Seneca West was in an early hole, down two sets to none, that they had to dig themselves out of. The next two games went in the direction of West Seneca West beating the Billies 25-17 then 25-20. It went to the exciting fifth game where Williamsville South topped West Seneca West with a score of 25-17 and won the match 3 sets to 2. The girls advanced to the second round of the sectional playoffs where they played Grand Island. South made an easy game of this one winning in three straight sets 25-20, 25-20, and 28-26. This set them up in the sectional semi-final game against Sweet Home, whom South beat both times during the regular season. In front of a large crowd for both schools, Sweet Home showed their power and swept South in three straight sets, dashing the Billies hopes for a repeat of last year. The girls volleyball team had a great season and they are proud of what they accomplished. Losing four starting players this year will be tough and the team will have to work hard next year to maintain the high level of performance that they have had for years.
The boys volleyball team was out to prove people wrong this year. With the loss of nine seniors last year, many people were doubtful of how much the team could accomplish. The three returning varsity senior players, outside hitter Joe Zanelotti, middle Shawn Barbalato, and setter Evan Manna, thought the team had a lot of potential. They needed to find a supporting cast around them that could keep up at the varsity level. This is exactly what they did and the Billies went 12-0 in the league and won the division for the third year in a row. They had strong play from senior middle hitter Sean Brown, weak side hitter Mitchell Binda, outside hitter Dan Proch, and libero Nico Zanelotti. Also adding strong contributions off the bench were outside hitter Matt Reesor, libero Nick Pieri and middle hitter Matt Kennedy. After going undefeated in the regular season, the boys were ready to head into playoffs ranked as the second seed behind Grand Island. They drew rival Williamsville North in the first round of the playoffs knowing that they had a tough task ahead of them. In front of a large and energetic crowd the Billies took North to 5 sets, but fell short in the end. We ended the year with a very strong 16-5 overall record. Senior captain Joe Zanelotti said team overcame adversity and proved ourselves as contenders “Personally, I think our division record proved it all. Losing nine seniors is really tough, for most teams losing 5 seniors is a huge deal. We played at a very high level all year. We rose to the occasion when we needed to and I’m very proud of that.” The team was very close and were happy with the season we had. We had great success and I hope the boys can carry that into next year.
The football team finished the year with a 5-4 overall record, not exactly what they were hoping for. Despite the losing record, the team did have glimpses of greatness. They beat Sweet Home on homecoming night for the first time in years. University of Buffalo commit Jake Fuzak terrorized quarterbacks all year, Matt Foster catch multiple TD passes from quarterback Jack Holyoke. Senior Luke Corona said “I feel that it definitely didn’t go as we planned and we thought we would have played better than we did, but we ended on a strong note as a team.” The last game of the regular season was against Williamsville North. An injury to QB Jack Holyoke hurt the Billies and North won the game 21-7. Matt Foster also suffered an ankle injury that kept him out for the remainder of the season. Going into the first round of the playoffs without Foster and Holyoke, the outcome was looking rough. South Park beat the Billies 45-20. Senior Justin Moon was injured in the early stages of this game, putting the Billies down 3 starters. The team had one more game to play against Hamburg. They won this game as a team , 34-14. This ended the year on a high note with hope for the future. Injuries were a huge part of the Billies trouble late in the season. Corona said “I think that injuries are the reason that our season went the way it did…I think it had a huge effect on the season.” The team is losing many big pieces this year and hopes to find players to step up and continue the tradition of winning football at Williamsville South.
We look forward to winter sports now at Williamsville South. Girls and boys basketball are expected to have great season while hockey looks to bring home a state title.