Leading off today:
This statistic boggles the mind more than any other New York scholastic sports statistic you're going to see the rest of the year. And its unlikely any number thrown at you next year or the year after that will match it, either.
The Lackawanna girls soccer team won a game Monday, in sectionals no less. The 23rd-seeded Steelers beat 10th seed I-Prep 1-0 in the first round of the Class B tournament, breaking a winless streak that lasted at least 11 years.
Take a moment to let your mind process that.
At least 11 years.
Sophomore Trista Higgins scored in the 24th minute off a free kick by senior Sarah Bialek, and junior goalkeeper Cassidhe Dilbert made five saves in the win.
"The streak is over," coach Jeff Patronik told The Buffalo News.
Buffalo News season records go back only to 2005, and there is no evidence of Lackawanna winning a game in that time. Patronik, 0-82-2 in six seasons as coach entering Monday's game, estimated the winless streak was at least 125 games.
Lackawanna is 1-13-1 this fall, having been outscored 80-4.
The Lackawanna district includes a large Yemeni community, and many of those students play for a successful boys program in the school. The girls are a different story, Patronik said.
"Some of the Yemeni girls are athletic, and they don't play," he said. "Right there, we lose about a third of our school population to draw from. The girls we do have don't play outside of school. Some of them are softball players who come out only because I'm the coach."
Also persevering: Until the Lackawanna story came along, the best girls soccer story of the week came via Greg Brownell at The Post-Star.
Brownell spent a lot of time with the team from Indian Lake-Long Lake, literally overmatched every time it took the field these past seven weeks during an 0-13-1 season.
The Indian Lake-Long Lake varsity roster consists of one senior, one junior, four sophomores and three freshmen. If your math isn't too sharp (or you don't want to take the four minutes to add those numbers up via the Common Core method), that's only nine players. That's workable most of the time if you're playing softball, but it's a few cleats short of a full soccer lineup.
"Writes Brownell: "Their season was about making things work. It was about the sportsmanship of some of their opponents. It was about dealing with reality. It was about a team trying to win against all odds."<>
The most recent combined BEDS number of the two schools -- the enrollment number for grades 9-11 last fall -- is 35. A typical Class D team has nearly five times as many students from which to build a team.
Coach Rob Linhart, who joined Long Lake as its physical education director last year, said he didn't lay out a set of goals for the team at the start of the season, except for one guiding principle -- to keep improving.
"I always tell them winning doesn't necessarily always mean you're winning on the scoreboard," he said. "I think accomplishing something is getting better every day. Sometimes it's tough, but at the end of the day when I look back, that's good enough for me to see that everybody improved."
Brownell's story is full of the answers to the questions readers would ask -- only one opponent played the whole game 11-vs.-9. Several showed great sportsmanship by playing 9-on-9 even when games were competitive. In the later stages of the season, it became 8-on-8.