St. John’s senior Jessica Recker cuts off Coldwater’s Paige Siefring to control the ball during their teams’ girls sectional contest at Elida’s Soccer Complex. Recker and seven other Lady Blue Jay seniors played the final match of their scholastic careers after falling 3-1.
ELIDA — Less than two minutes.
That is all it took — in fact, 1:06 of the second half — for Coldwater to score two quick goals and eventually send St. John’s packing in a 3-1 Division III girls soccer loss on a chilly Thursday night at the Elida Soccer Complex.
The Cavaliers (8-6-2) advance to take on Allen East, who upset top-seeded LCC 4-3 in double-overtime in the earlier matchup, 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“It’s the first tournament win in the program’s history and the first winning season. We’ve come a long way this season,” Coldwater coach Scott Brinkman said. “We lost a lot of seniors from last season but these girls have stepped it up over the course of the off-season and until now. We knew it would be tough from having played St. John’s earlier and nothing was easy.”
After the Blue Jays (4-13-1) tied the score earlier in the half on a Madison Kreeger tally, both teams went at it to try and get the tournament win.
The Jays had three solid chances: at 33:59, when senior Michelle Hitchcock was denied from 30 yards by Cavalier senior keeper Krista Wellman (4 saves versus 8 shots on-goal); at 29:40, when the junior Kreeger was stopped from 10 yards by the keeper; and 27:03, when Kreeger fired a 16-yarder from a tough angle on the right side but junior defender Anna Kahlig deflected it.
As well, Kreeger had a chance in the 25th minute when she was in the box with the ball and apparently tripped without getting a shot off but the referee ruled played on, to the consternation of the Blue Jay faithful.
Coldwater had its chances from then on, especially at the 22-minute mark when junior speedster Leslie Stelzer got a great run down the right side and her 15-yarder was just over the crossbar; 40 ticks later, sophomore speed merchant Holly Rindler got a 17-yard try from just outside the right post but was wide to that side.
However, those two were thorns in the Lady Jay side all night and finally got through. At 11:21, Stelzer got a good run down the middle on a through ball and with sophomore netminder Samantha Wehri (2 saves vs. 8 shots) coming out to try and take away the angle, Stelzer’s 18-yarder was deflected by the keeper; she scrambled to try and prevent the goal but couldn’t quite get there for a 2-1 deficit.
Just 1:06 later, the Cavaliers put the nail in the coffin off a corner kick from the right side. Senior Carly Hoying delivered a perfect aerial to the foot of Rindler, who touched it from just inside the left post from six yards before the defense could react for a 3-1 edge.
The Jays tried to rally but their only real chance to get another goal was at 1:21 when Kreeger’s 19-yard free kick — handball called just outside the 18-yard box — was just over the bar.
“Those two goals were killers. We had gotten momentum and I thought we were putting a lot of good things together: runs, passes, sequences,” St. John’s coach John Munoz explained. “The first goal was an unlucky break where the girl just beat Sam to the ball and we couldn’t prevent the goal. The second was just a well-executed corner kick; we didn’t defend it well and they put it together well. We still tried to rally even down two goals; these girls never give up.”
Coldwater, who had beaten St. John’s 2-1 earlier in the season in Delphos by rallying from a 1-goal deficit, got the 1-goal lead just 4:25 into this matchup. Stelzer got a good run down the middle and her 15-yarder got inside the right post for a 1-0 edge.
Shots on-goal were few and far between the rest of the half, even as the Jays tried to get more organized and the Cavaliers tried to play long ball with their speedsters up front.
“We would like to play ball-possession a lot more but that is not what we have right now,” Brinkman added. “We have two of the fastest girls around in Leslie and Holly and they just drive defenses crazy. We just play long ball and let them go get it.”
At 30:31, Kreeger fired form the top of the semi-circle but was denied, while Stelzer — in the center — just missed over the top from 10 yards — with Wehri taking away the angle at 29:28.
Wehri made a diving stop of a 15-yarder by Rindler at 22:24.
The Jays had their best opening with just 35 ticks left when the ball was dangerously close to their offensive goal but Kahlig against kicked the ball out of danger.
The Jays got the equalizer with 35:20 left when senior Rylee Hamilton, on the left side, crossed perfectly to Kreeger in the mdidle and her 1-yarder slipped inside the right post for the 1-1 tie.
Hamilton, Hitchcock, Ally Mohler, Alyssa Gable, Kelsey Pohlman, Morgan Musser, Brittany Kramer and Jessica Recker played the final matches of their scholastic careers.
“Every year, it’s tough to say good-bye to seniors. We depend a lot on them every year and they are special,” Munoz added. “It’s hard to see it end because they made it so much fun and worked so hard; they really helped us become so tight as a group and really enjoy the game. The younger girls have to pick up from them into the future and work just as hard.”