By Matt Zircher
Sidney Daily News
ANNA — The girls title in the Western Ohio Soccer League was on the line here Thursday night as the two remaining undefeateds faced each other in the Lehman Lady Cavaliers and the Anna Lady Rockets.
After a scoreless first half, a Lehman goal early in the second half proved to be the difference as the Lady Cavs prevailed 1-0.
Lehman, ranked second in the state in this week’s Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association Division 3 poll, improves to 11-1-1 overall and 5-0 in the WOSL. The Lady Cavs close out the season with three matches next week, including league contests at Botkins on Tuesday and at home against Lima Catholic on Thursday.
Anna is now 11-2-2 on the season and finishes league play at 6-1. The Lady Rockets wrap up the regular season by hosting Bethel on Tuesday.
Going into the match, the two teams had given up just 10 goals combined on the season, three by Lehman, and the two teams lived up to that defensive strength with a scoreless first half. Lehman had the first chance to score, but two free kick opportunities sailed high over the goal.
The Lady Rockets gained control offensively with two corner kicks in a three-minute span, but the Cavalier defense came up with a save to knock away a shot, and a shot off a free kick went high.
Anna had another big chance to score with 12 minutes remaining in the period, but could not control a header.
“We’ve played great defense all season and tonight was no different,” said Lehman coach Jeremy Lorenzo. “We knew that Anna was going to come out with a lot of emotion, especially with the league championship on the line and playing at their place.
“Anna had control the first 20 minutes or so of the first half and we just had to survive that,” added Lorenzo. “We were able to settle down from there and settle into playing our game.”
Lehman finally broke through at the 31:26 mark of the second half on a goal by forward Grace Olding that found the corner of the net.
“Grace was heads up on that play,” said Lorenzo. “She did a great job of getting to the ball and putting it away.”
“We controlled the first half, but once Lehman scored that goal, they were in control from there,” said Anna coach Mike Noll. “We needed to calm back down and play our game, but we weren’t able to.”
The Lady Rockets had two chances to tie the match in the later minutes, including a breakaway from the right side, but Cavalier goalkeeper Camille Brown intercepted a cross and later made a diving stop on a loose ball following an Anna free kick.
“I was a little disappointed that we didn’t do more offensively, but it’s still a big win for us,” said Lorenzo. “We found a way to win and that’s important heading into the tournament.”
“It was a great effort, especially with how young we are,” said Noll, whose team has no seniors and just five juniors. “We showed we can play with anyone and that’s got to give us some confidence heading into the tournament.”
Lehman finished with an 11-8 shot advantage and Brown had three saves while Anna goalie Savanna Hostetler had five.