Gator soccer nets 100th win


100 wins and counting for the Port Allegany boys soccer program. Front row (L-R): Matt Lawton, Josh Mealy, Simon Burleson, Javin Stiles, Seth Bowers, Jordan Card, Bladen Yeager, Robbie Arnet, Chris Baily, Brandon McCaslin, McKenzie Elliot, Eli Petruzzi, Tyler Lashway, Briar Caulkins, Payton Caden, Howie Stuckey, Aaron Clark, Aiden Clark, Justin Osani. Back Row (L-R): Benjamin Lawton, Shawn McNeil, Josh Conklin, Jordan Bell, Gavin Minich, Adam Doan, Leo McDowell, Daniel Harris, Bryce Baker, Calvin Burleson, David Talkington      (Photo provided)

Lori Chase
Sept. 8, 2016

Port Allegany opened its boys soccer season on the right foot last weekend, picking up a 1-0 win over Olean in the first round of Allegany-Limestone’s “Gator Cup” tournament before falling to the home team, 2-1, in the championship game the following night.

Not only was it the first time Port had ever beaten the Huskies, a Class B school, but it marked an even bigger milestone: The school’s 100th victory in the sport, something coaches Aaron Clark and Matt Lawton probably never even thought about when they began the program in 2006. The Gators won a single game in that inaugural campaign, but quickly established themselves as a team to reckon with in District 9, appearing in the 2013 Class A championship game during a still-running string of eight consecutive postseason berths.

“I guess it just means that we’ve had a lot of good athletes,” said Clark, who willingly endured a celebratory postgame Gatorade shower. “We’ve been lucky to get a lot of good soccer players. Some of those years were easy to coach; we’d set the starting lineup and then sit down.”

Brandon McCaslin netted the only goal of the contest against Olean on a penalty kick 20 minutes into the first half, and Josh Mealy and Adam Doan combined for 12 saves to secure the shutout despite being outshot 19-9.

“We played different tactically than what we typically try to play,” Clark explained. “Our players are used to being the team that sort of dictates the style; they’re used to playing a faster game where they control the ball. Olean is just so talented, they’re such a physical team, we focused on playing defense. We were trying to make sure every player was covering who they were supposed to. We were lucky enough that on one of our counterattacks, Brandon got tackled in the box and got a penalty kick, and he converted it.

“Honestly, the rest of the game was all about slowing it down. Olean was trying to play a faster game, trying to run up and down the field quickly. I thought the players did a really good job of frustrating Olean, doing what they could to aggravate and basically take them out of their game plan.”

Port struck first in Saturday’s Gator-versus-Gator final, with Mackenzie Elliott converting a direct kick just 1:14 into the game, but Allegany-Limestone’s Mike Wolfgang leveled the score with 14 minutes left in the first half and Dylan Talbot netted the game-winner midway through the second session to give the New York squad the win on its home turf. Conner Golley made four saves to earn the win in goal, with Mealy corralling five shots for Port.

“We had the same number of shots and more corner kicks, but it was still the same type of game where they possessed the ball more and we relied on our counterattack,” Clark said. “I don’t think we had quite enough in the tank to be able to stay with them.”

While he would’ve loved to bring the championship trophy home on the team bus, Clark was still pleased with his squad’s performance.

“I feel great about where the team is at right now,” he said. “I think I’d be hard-pressed to say that anybody we’re going to play in District 9 has the same combination of physical play, speed and skill on the ball. We’re going to play some really physical teams, but they’re not going to be as talented or as fast. We’re going to play some talented teams, but they’re not going to have the physicality. Both Olean and Allegany-Limestone had all three facets of the game.”

With Tuesday’s game at Ridgway pushed back to Oct. 3, Port opens its regular-season slate at home against Kane on Thursday before hosting ECC and Smethport next week.
Coudersport is the defending UAVSL North champion, and Clark expects them to be his team’s “biggest challenge” in the division again this year.

“I saw that they beat Bradford this weekend. Knowing what they’re bringing back, they’ve got a lot of talent on their roster, so I have to assume that we’re going to have a fight on our hands against them,” he said.

As for his postseason outlook? “Going into the league and district schedule, I think there’s really three or four teams at the top of the district. I’d like to think that we’re in that top three or four teams.”


The Port Allegany girls soccer team came home from Bradford with a split in the Owls’ season-opening tournament over the weekend, dropping a 2-1 decision to Portville on Friday afternoon before blanking rival Smethport, 4-0, on Saturday morning. The Panthers went on to beat Bradford, 4-0, for the tourney title.

Autumn Buchsenschutz, the team’s leading scorer last season with nine goals, tallied once in each game, with Autumn Freer, Rylee Lawton, and Shaylee Caulkins adding goals against the Hubbers.

After hosting St. Marys on Tuesday, the Gators (1-1) are slated to travel to Wellsboro on Saturday for an 11 a.m. start, then play at Smethport next Monday.

AML Week 2: Gators fall to Ridgway





Lori Chase
Sept. 8, 2016

Two weeks into the season, the Port Allegany varsity football team is still seeking its first win following last Friday’s 50-0 Allegheny Mountain League setback against Ridgway at Memorial Field in Johnsonburg.

And with starter Daniel Jordan sidelined for at least the next few weeks due to injury, the Gators (0-2) are also looking for a new quarterback.
“I feel bad, because he played one full game his sophomore year, none his junior year, and one full game his senior year. That’s it,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said.

The second quarter was the key to victory for the combined Ridgway/Johnsonburg squad, as they sandwiched a pair of short scoring drives around Neil MacDonald’s 66-yard punt return to build a 35-0 halftime lead.

“Overall, we were pretty pleased with the first half, especially the first quarter. We made them earn everything they got on their offensive end. We just seemed to give the ball back to them at inopportune times with good field position,” Bienkowski said. “We couldn’t sustain a drive on offense. We’re struggling on that side of the ball, trying to establish the line of scrimmage, but it’s certainly not for a lack of effort. Then the game just kind of got away from us in the second half.”

MacDonald also scored the first touchdown for Ridgway (2-0) and led all ballcarriers with 50 yards on seven attempts, while quarterback Johnny Mitchell ran for one score and threw for another. Trey Stiles rushed for 33 yards to pace the Gators and also contributed a team-leading eight stops on defense, with Josh Rees and Deven Smoker each contributing a tackle for loss.

Mentioning Stiles and Jake Kallenborn as two players who stood out on his squad, Bienkowski added, “Trey’s trying to make every possible cut and hit every hole he can, sticking his shoulder in there against guys double and triple his size. Gotta love that. Jake’s blocking guys to the whistle. Obviously, getting beat, they’re not happy, but you can tell they just love playing football. I don’t care what the score is, it’s hard not to like that.”

Of the team as a whole, he added, “They give it their all. I love and respect the effort they give, and the appreciation they have for the opportunity to play the sport. The skill level isn’t there right now, but the things we can help, effort and intensity, they bring it. We just tip our cap to a better football team in Ridgway.”

Moving forward, Kallenborn is the likely choice as Jordan’s replacement behind center. The 6-0, 160-pound junior played the position in junior high and as a backup during his freshman year before shifting to receiver, then moving to the line this season.

“He’s tall, very intelligent, extremely coachable and a good leader,” Bienkowski said. “I think that’s probably the route we’re going to go. The only problem with that is that it leaves such a huge hole at left guard. The kid’s a player. I’d take a team full of him every week. He’ll have to learn some of the intricacies of the game again, the footwork part, but he’ll pick up on it.”

The Gators face another formidable AML South foe this week in Brockway, which rolls into “The Swamp” this Friday night at 2-0 after beating Otto-Eldred 57-6 and Sheffield 56-9. The Rovers boast a balanced offense, with quarterback Hunter Miller tossing four touchdown passes against the Wolverines a week after running back Mark Latuska found the end zone four times against the Terrors.

“They spread it out, but mainly to run it,” Bienkowski said.

Taking one last look at the Ridgway game, he concluded, “We fixed some mistakes and made some new ones, but I respect their effort. I’m proud to coach them. We’ve just got to figure out a way to max out our talent, and that’s my job. Once again, I’ve got a fantastic coaching staff that’s losing sleep trying to make things work. We’re trying.

“We’re going to do some mixing and some matching, and our goal is to be at full strength, ready to roll, when we go to Eldred in three weeks. We’re going to keep on plugging.”

At Johnsonburg, Sept. 2:
Port Allegany 0-0-0-0-0
Ridgway 14-21-7-8-50

Scoring Summary
First Quarter
Ridgway (4:45) – Neil MacDonald 1 run; Aaron Hinton kick, 0-7
Ridgway (0:34) – Johnny Mitchell 22 run; Hinton kick, 0-14
Second Quarter
Ridgway (7:49) – Jacob Myers 2 run; Hinton kick, 0-21
Ridgway (4:08) – MacDonald 66 punt return; Hinton kick, 0-28
Ridgway (1:26) – Ryan Kilhoffer 22 pass from Mitchell; Hinton kick, 0-35
Third Quarter
Ridgway (7:46) – Jacob Zimmerman 1 run; Hinton kick, 0-42
Fourth Quarter
Ridgway (3:51) – Evan Furlong 30 run; Joey Elinski pass from Hinton, 50-0

Team Statistics:
First downs: Port 4, Ridgway 14. Rushes-Yds: Port 29-41, Ridgway 37-245. C-A-I: Port 0-2-0, Ridgway 2-4-0. Passing yards: Port 0, Ridgway 22. Total offense: Port 41, Ridgway 289. Fumbles-Lost: Port 1-1, Ridgway 0-0. Punts-Avg: Port 5-34.4, Ridgway 1-50. Penalties-Yds: Port 4-35, Ridgway 4-35. Plays: Port 31, Ridgway 41.