Rockets, Eagles and more Eagles remain soccer-strong

J. Patrick Eaken

When it comes to girls soccer in the Eastern Maumee Bay community, it is king. Every year there are multiple league champions, and 2020 is no exception.

Eastwood, ranked fifth in the final Division III state coaches’ poll, repeated as Northern Buckeye Conference champions, Oak Harbor won a Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division title and Clay won a Three Rivers Athletic Conference title. 

For Clay, that is not an easy task going up against powerhouses St. Ursula, Notre Dame, and Findlay. The Eagles reached the D-I district final, losing to Perrysburg, 4-3, in overtime.

Coach Don “Duck” Hess’ Eagles were just 10-6-1 overall but playing a schedule against the state’s best programs. In the TRAC, Clay was 6-1 and Hess was awarded TRAC Coach of the Year and Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Coach of the Year.

“We’re pretty solid all-around. We lost a lot of seniors from last year, of course, but we’ve been able to not-so-much rebuild but reload,” Hess said. “I’ve got a real good junior class, I’ve got a handful of seniors that I would say, including (forward) Bella Mabry and Lauren Clark that other coaches know that when they play us, they have to pay attention to them,” adding that Clark was the backbone of the defense.”

It goes without saying that because of the competition Clay plays, the seven Eagles who got either first or second team All-Press are just the crème of the crop. In another league, all 11 starters and more could likely earn all-league honors.

There were some good teams that did not win championships, too. In the final Northwest District poll, Clay was fifth in D-I and in D-III, Eastwood was first, Woodmore fourth and Lake eighth.

Woodmore, the NBC runner-up, finished 13-4-2 and had been ranked in the D-III statewide coaches’ poll earlier this season.

First-year Woodmore girls soccer coach Lauren Colangelo was another strong candidate for Coach of the Year honors, pulling a young team together out of nowhere and surprising everyone. 

It did help the Wildcats that they had three seniors, midfielder Autumn Beaudoin, center back Sidney Gillig and midfielder Greta Bauder get first or second team All-Press and provide leadership.

“I think aside from soccer, our biggest strength is our unity and chemistry as a whole. We are a fairly young team,” Colangelo said. “A lot of our girls have grown up together, and we are so small and tiny (enrollment-wise), they all have gone to school together and been friends for a long time. 

“So that definitely helps on the field, and our senior class, we have three starters who are all incredible and they are all great leaders. They have really stepped up this year to lead the team.”


Flyers proud, but ‘disappointed’

Lake was also in contention, defeating Eastwood 1-0 in the final league game of the season on a goal by Ava Ayers and shutout by All-Press Goalkeeper of the Year Brigid Enright. But they lost to Woodmore three times (2-0, 2-1, and 3-1 in a D-III district semifinal) and just couldn’t get over the top.

“As a coach, you are always disappointed,” Lake coach Don Jablonski said. “We were hoping that we would have something in us for Woodmore in the district semis to get to Eastwood again. But Woodmore was a good team this year. They took Eastwood in the finals to overtime, double overtime and a shootout. Of our five losses, three were to Woodmore, once to Eastwood and once to Liberty-Benton where they were all quality games.”

Like Woodmore and Eastwood, Lake is junior-heavy, so there must be something about this year’s junior class. You see it in other programs, like D-I state semifinalist Anthony Wayne, which had just two seniors and relied mostly on juniors.

Ayers (17 goals, 10 assists), a junior forward, Hayley St. John (16 goals, 12 assists), a senior forward, led Lake in scoring with 44 points each. Ayers is first team All-NBC, All-Press and all-district, and Jablonski says she was seventh in vote getting on the district ballot.

“We beat Liberty Center 3-0 and Ava had all three goals and she is a quality player. She is on the verge of breaking the scoring record at Lake next year that was set by Shelby Antonacci. I think she is 15 to16 goals short, so she should do that next year,” Jablonski said.

“But I had plenty of other kids like Hayley St. John, second team all-league, who had 16 goals, one goal short of Ava, but she had a couple more assists, so they were tied in points with 44 points. She has already signed to play basketball with Lourdes, and is a quality athlete. She picked up a lot of slack because she had teams that double teamed Ava this year,” Jablonski continued.

Lindsay Darr, a sophomore outside back, and her twin sister, center midfielder Emily Darr, are also first team All-Press, despite the odds. They had to overcome their own physicality to compete with bigger players. Despite being defenders, they combined for four goals and two assists.

“Emily was first team all-league last year and just honorable mention in the district and it’s hard in our district because you have 38 teams all with players up there and there are some quality players,” Jablonski said. 

“Just to be put up is a good thing. For Emily, a center midfielder, it’s tough especially with her size. She only weighs 104 pounds and it’s tough to play in the middle with that quality of kids in the NBC. Then, you have her twin sister Lindsay, who is 110 and probably pound-for-pound one of the best defenders and it showed in that Liberty Center game. You’ve got a kid who was their No. 1 player, and Lindsay was on her side and only allowed that girl to get one shot off. That was a battle. That girl was frustrated and bigger than Lindsay and they battled. So, Lindsay is a good player,

Jablonski adds that senior center midfielder Liz Cowell (seven goals, seven assists) “is a nice player” who got second team All-Press, and then there is another who had to overcome the odds, second team All-Press junior Jane Fisher.

“Again here is another kid who is 110 pounds playing center back. When she stepped up where Colette (Askins) played last year, and Colette was an all-state player, so she had big shoes to fill but she’s getting it. So, she’ll be a senior next year and she’ll do a good job for us there next year,” Jablonski said.
















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