Eagles’ dream season ends, but program remains strong

Mark Griffin

You pretty much know your high school soccer program has arrived when reaching the regional tournament is no longer good enough.
“Nine years ago we had eight wins and were barely over .500,” ninth-year Eastwood girls coach Megan Rutherford said. “The goal is to always get better every year.”
The Eagles reached the Division II regional semifinals last season before losing to Liberty-Benton, 2-0. Eastwood finished 19-2. This year’s squad reached the regional semis again and ended the season with a 1-0 double-overtime loss to Liberty-Benton on Tuesday in Perrysburg.
Eastwood finished this season with a 20-1 record and a No. 3 ranking in the state coaches’ poll. Liberty-Benton (18-1-1), which came in ranked 11th, advanced to Saturday’s regional finals against Archbold (16-1-3)
“Liberty-Benton will be tough again next year and we look forward to playing them again,” Rutherford said. “I have a lot of respect for their coach, Mark Pagano, and they run a great program. It’s a good test every year to see where we’re at.”
Eastwood entered Tuesday’s game having outscored opponents by a 132-16 margin, with 10 shutouts. Eastwood advanced to the regional semis after beating Lake, 5-1, in last Saturday’s district final. Liberty-Benton had 12 shutouts entering the regional tournament, and its only setback this season was a 1-0 loss to Eastwood on Oct. 8.
Liberty-Benton also tied Archbold, 0-0, on Sept. 9.
“We knew we wouldn’t have as many (scoring) opportunities as usual, because they are so good defensively,” Rutherford said of Tuesday’s rematch. “They have a lot of speed. They’re experienced and they’re well-coached and we knew it would be difficult to break them down. We’re about as even as you can get. Most of their shots (on Tuesday) came toward the end of regulation and in overtime.”
Eastwood out-shot L-B by a 12-2 margin in the first half and finished with 23 shots on goal. L-B won the game on a fluky goal in the second OT.
“One of their attackers knocked our center-back down,” Rutherford said. “(Officials) determined it was going to play on, and it left us exposed. Their girl read the play well and scored. Our other center-back was trying to contest (the shot) but didn’t get there in time. The shot ricocheted off the post and went in.”
Eastwood junior goalie Jaylee Souder stopped eight shots in the loss.
“I told the team I was proud of them,” Rutherford said. “I thought they were going to win that game. They had made magic all season and I thought they would find some magic in this game. I said next year when we play at Perrysburg, we were going to win no matter what it took. I expect good things out of them. They have a lot to look forward to.
“It was a fun team to coach. I just wanted another practice, another game, and I wanted to keep being their coach. They fought so hard and played with such heart that I thought they deserved to win. Liberty-Benton ultimately got the ball in the back of the net and that’s what counts.”
Sophomore attacker Kenna Souder led Eastwood with 33 goals this season, followed by sophomore attacker Aubrey Haas (29), senior forward Raegan Delgado (15), freshman midfielder/forward Hannah Montag (15) and sophomore center midfielder Sydney Ameling (13).
Sophomore defensive center mid Kaylynn Simon led Eastwood with 20 assists. Souder had 17 assists, while freshman Hannah Montag and sophomores Aubrey Haas, Jada Jensen and Ameling all had nine apiece. Souder had 59 saves on 75 shots faced, for a 78.7 percent save percentage.
Eastwood graduates four full- or part-time starters in defenders Shelby Getz and Raegen Stewart, in addition to Delgado and Rory Farmer.
“Being able to replace those defenders, I think we have the people to do it,” Rutherford said. “I think they accept the challenge. The girls are ready to try to repeat the same success next season.”


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