Bates' goal lifts Sabres into semis

This was new ground on two fronts. Prior to 2006, Clinton never won a Sectional title, and prior to this game, the Sabres hadn't played this fall on an artificial surface.

Still, said Bailey, the Sabres adjusted well to Field Turf, and took dead aim at a Clinton defense that had recorded 16 shutouts in its 20 victories this year.

All through the first half, the defenses were stout on both ends. Clinton offered its usual resistance, but Schalmont's back line of Dan Macken, Greg Swift and Scott Masick, backed by sweeper Jordan Flores, was just as good, breaking up whatever the Warriors tried to establish.

Also, the Sabres got some good fortune in the 27th minute when Clinton's Brett Fuller, open in front, smashed a shot flush off the left post.

So it was still 0-0 when, in the 54th minute, Schalmont finally cracked the Warriors' defensive code. Lontrato took the rebound of a corner kick on the left and hit a low, screaming shot past Clinton goalie Chris Snyder just inside the right post.

Less than eight minutes later, the Sabres doubled its margin when Lontrato, getting a perfect feed from Macken in the right corner, crushed one into the left side of the net.

Bailey said that Lontrato had been limited in his movement by staying in the middle. By going a bit outside, he said, the opportunities opened up, and he took full advantage.

But a 2-0 lead with less than 19 minutes left did not guarantee safety, and when the Sabres relaxed a bit, Clinton went all-out to catch up.

With 9:01 left, a series of nice passes set up Fuller to head the ball past goalie Mike Falcone into the net, pulling the Warriors within one, and it pushed even harder in the last nine minutes to get even.

That best chance came with 1:20 left. Staring at a point-blank shot, Falcone made the toug save, then cleared it, and Schalmont ran out the clock.

"We kept our composure," said Lontrato. "We played our game and did what we had to do.""

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