Wildcats girls soccer team falls one spot short of the Final Four

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

Though Woodmore girls soccer fell just short of making it to the Division III state semifinals, the team can take solace in knowing it just had the best season in the history of the program.
The Wildcats lost 1-0 to Ottawa-Glandorf in the regional finals to finish the season with a 16-4-1 record and the second district title in program history.
It would make sense to think the 1-0 victory over Creston Norwayne in the regional semifinals or the 4-0 defeat of Ottawa Hills in the district semifinals was the biggest win of the season.
“It’s the farthest we’ve ever been,” said Woodmore coach Jeff Helmke. “Every playoff game was against a good team. Ottawa-Glandorf was the state runner-up last year. The girls stepped up in every game.”
Maybe those were the two most important victories of Woodmore’s season, but that doesn’t underscore the team rallying to defeat rival Eastwood, 2-1 in the district semifinals.
The Eagles were responsible for two of the Wildcats’ losses this season and cost them a Northern Buckeye Conference championship.
In the third matchup between the two teams, Eastwood got on the board first when Piper Sutton scored a goal with 6:32 remaining before halftime. Woodmore tied it up when Azure Travis scored just under 20 minutes into the second half, and Kelsey Kaylor hit a 30-yard shot that angled over the head of Eastwood goalkeeper Jordan Jensen with 5:48 to play, giving the Wildcats the lead and control of the game. Layla McGinnis had 10 saves.
“We’ve always known we could (beat Eastwood), but to do it in such a big game propelled us forward,” said midfielder Alayna Hahn. “It showed that we deserve to be here.”
“That was a big victory,” Helmke said. “That’s what propelled us against Ottawa Hills and Norwayne.”
In the win over the Bobcats, Travis scored the lone goal on an assist from Hahn. Travis had a hat trick and Kaylor scored a goal in the victory over the Green Bears; McGinnis stopped 10 shots in the win. Travis and Macy Bauder scored both goals in the 2-1 double-overtime win over the Panthers.
Hahn talked about the chemistry for the team, which proved to be an X-factor this season.
“Our dreams became a reality,” she said. “I love working with these girls (because) we are friends on and off the field. I’m extremely proud of this team. I think the program has a bright future. With the league switch (next season), the girls will be successful.”
Hunt talked about her experience playing as a senior.
“I think this season was very exciting. I had to work to get back half the season,” she said. “It was great to be around such supportive girls.
Could collegiate soccer be in the future for Hunt?
“I didn’t plan on playing in college, but I could see myself (doing so),” said Hunt. “I play travel ball, so I’ll continue to do that and see what happens.”
Helmke assessed the state of the program.
“I expect the numbers to go up because we made it to the regional finals,” he said. “The community was really behind everybody.”
It’s the end of the careers for six Wildcats — Bauder, Hahn, Hunt, Paige Helmke, Rahzia Rios and Alena Davis.
“No matter the sport, the work they put in, it showed,” said Jeff Helmke. “It’s about leadership and skill with them, and they’ll be greatly missed.”
Travis led the team with 24 goals and 10 assists, good for 58 points; Bauder (12 goals, 13 assists) had 37 points and led the team in assists and Hunt finished with 28 points (13 goals, 2 assists).


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