HF-L claims third straight A2 title

By PAUL GOTHAM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A different style of play only slowed the Honeoye Falls-Lima boys soccer team for a brief time, but the narrative didn’t change for the Cougars.

Nico Coria recorded his 13th shutout of the season and third in the sectionals as HF-L defeated Wilson Magnet, 4-0 to claim its third straight Section Five Class A2 final.

In a game where he was rarely tested, the junior goalkeeper came through when needed.

“He’s an awesome goalie,” HF-L head coach Mike Merrill said of Coria. “He really represents the defense collectively. They do an awesome job. Can’t say enough about him.”

Tanner Smith got the Cougars on the scoreboard with his first goal of the season – a header off a corner kick from Roth Wetzel.

“Played it short,” Smith said of the service. “The defenders took their eyes off me. Just left me unmarked, and I finished it.

“It opened up the floodgates for our team. It got us going.”

Wetzel followed two and half minutes later with another tally to give the Cougars a two-goal advantage going into halftime.

“They had that strategy to pack it in,” Merrill explained. “I think it was a good one. It tried to frustrate us. When we couldn’t score, we did get a little frustrated. Once we cracked the first goal I think it opened the game a little bit. That style can definitely frustrate teams. It did for a while.”

Kieran Papalia gave the two-time champions a commanding lead in the 68th minute with his 16th goal of the season. The senior midfielder went top shelf after he gathered the rebound from Wetzel’s shot just inside the 18-yard box.

Wilson, the two seed, reached its first finals in program history after knocking off Wayne Tuesday night.

“They’re a little bit different than a lot of the teams we played this year,” Merrill noted. “They have really good individual players on the ball. They play a little bit different style than the suburban teams – that’s the best way to put it. It was really fun to watch them dismantle Wayne. I was curious how we would match up. I think we matched up pretty well with them.”

Parker Hotchkiss connected from the right side of the box for the final margin.

HF-L defeated Pittsford Sutherland 2-1 in the finals both of the last two seasons. The title was the seventh in HF-L program history.

“We have a lot of well-rounded players,” Merrill said of the 2016 champions. “No studs per se. Everybody is a really solid player.”

HF-L will play Class A1 champion Greece Athena Tuesday in regional qualifier. A 5:30 p.m. kickoff is scheduled at Spencerport High School.

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