Five of nine girls soccer teams on top of their game

J. Patrick Eaken

Out of nine area girls soccer teams, at least five should be ranked in their respective districts. Two are ranked in the state polls.

Northwest Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association has ranked Eastwood (9-1) No. 1 in Division III, Woodmore (7-1) is ranked third, and Lake (5-3-1) is ranked eighth. In D-I, Clay (4-4-1) is ranked fifth, and Oak Harbor, which is in the North Central district, is 8-1 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the Sandusky Bay Conference, but has been overlooked in polls.

“We don’t usually get votes because we play in the SBC and the voting individuals don’t believe the SBC is that strong. We do end up in the North Central district for state voting.  We’ve beaten Wauseon and Huron who both have either been ranked or received votes.  I usually don’t watch those rankings too closely.  We were never ranked last year either,” Oak Harbor coach Renee Williamson said.

It’s typically this way in girls soccer with Eastern Maumee Bay community teams dominating their respective leagues. Lately, it’s been Oak Harbor in the SBC Bay, Clay always contends in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference and Eastwood has recently taking firm control of the Northern Buckeye Conference race. 

“I know this area has several quality teams and it’s exciting to see them do as well as they are,” Williamson said, noting especially Eastwood and Woodmore, which are ranked in the state polls.

“We are off to a great start after a stumble in our opening game. Through our last few games, we have focused on the weaknesses we found during our first game.  The girls are working well together and communicating which will be key to success going forward.  We are lucky enough to return the majority of starters from last season and have added a few new key players,” Williamson continued. 

Even Lake is ranked, but it has to contend with Eastwood and Woodmore in the NBC, which coach Dan Jablonski welcomes. The Flyers are led by Ava Ayers, who has 18 points on seven goals and four assists and Hayley St. John, who has six goals and five assists.

“We seem to have gotten off to a slow start this year, we really missed playing in the scrimmages we had lined up this year. We have to get motivated quick if we want to compete with Eastwood and Woodmore,” Jablonski said.

The top ranked Eagles are 9-1 overall and 5-0 in the NBC. They are led in goals by junior Kenna Souder (21 goals) and junior Aubrey Haas (14), in assists by sophomore Hannah Montag (11) and Haas (10). Senior goalkeeper Jaylee Souder has 33 saves on 40 shots for an 82.5 save percentage, and has not allowed an opponent to score on three penalty kicks.

“I’m really happy with how our team is playing right now. We’ve got a well-rounded attack with six players scoring five goals or more through the first 10 games and six players with five or more assists through the first 10 games,” coach Megan Rutherford said.

“We also have been doing well defensively only allowing one goal per game. Right now, we’re averaging more goals per game than teams are getting shots against us. That’s pretty solid defending across the board,” Rutherford continued.

“Our goalkeepers are playing really well and I am really happy with how our team is coming together. We have dressed each player on our 30 player roster, at some point, for a varsity game. We have depth so we like to use it to wear teams down,” Rutherford continued. 

“I’m not afraid to sub a lot of players and I think that’s a testament to how hard these girls work in practice and how they take pride in making each other better. They aren’t afraid to hit each other in practice because they know they have to keep getting better every day if they want to continue to win games.”

Add to that three boys teams are ranked in Northwest Ohio, including Clay (8-3), which is fifth in Division I and for the first time in years, defeated St. Francis, 2-0, Tuesday night. 

“My team is playing at a very high level right now, they’re exciting to watch," Clay coach Zach Soncrant said. “Even our three losses were against quality opponents and only by one goal in each of those games. I can’t say enough about the work ethic and drive this team has and I’m exited for what the rest of the season holds for us.”

Genoa (7-2) is ranked eighth and Eastwood (4-3) 10th in D-III. 

Genoa is on top of the NBC standings, and Eastwood is hanging in there. However, Lake is the only NBC team to defeat the Comets, 5-4, and at 5-5 are on the grasp of being ranked in the district poll.

Eastwood lost to Genoa, 5-3, but beat Lake, 1-0.

“The boys have taken positive steps towards playing the game the right way,” Eastwood coach Mason Hecklinger said. “Adjusting to a new coach and the desired style of play can be difficult, especially for a team that has never done some of the things that we are trying to do. Our team has gradually improved throughout the first half of the year and we hope to keep making strides in the right direction.”







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