Clay girls soccer coach Scott Wamer called it a “huge win for our program,” but most fans don’t know that the Eagles’ 1-0 upset of third-ranked St. Ursula Academy on Wednesday was 10 months in the making.
“We started this back in November, in the weight room at six in the morning,” said Wamer, in his 12th season. “The girls were willing to sacrifice sleep and time to dedicate themselves to this season. It’s definitely paying off. I like the fact we are coming together as a team. These girls are bonding and appreciating each other, and they’re learning how to win.”
Sophomore striker Morgan Connor’s second-half goal, off an assist from sophomore Hayley Schiavone, provided the only scoring in Clay’s win over St. Ursula, last year’s Division II state runner-up. The victory lifted the Eagles to 4-2 and 2-0 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference.
|Clay senior midfielder Kendyl Christian(8) looks to send a cross
to sophomore midfielder Kara Simon(13) during the Eagle's 1-0
victory over third-ranked St. Ursula. (Press photo by Scott Grau)
“This is a huge win for the program,” Wamer said. “It was a great high school soccer game. We had great goalkeeping and we played well at all positions tonight. I thought we could be in the game. I was hoping our experience would pay off, and it did tonight.”
Ten full- or part-time starters return from last year’s squad, which finished 8-9-1 and reached the D-II district semifinals.
Clay got what Wamer deemed a wake-up call in its second match this season when it got crushed 10-0 by Perrysburg, the top-ranked D-I team in the state. The Eagles also lost to ninth-ranked (D-II) Anthony Wayne, 1-0, in their fourth match.
“Not to make excuses,” Wamer said, “but we played Perrysburg on our first day of school. They are a very athletic team. They were No. 1 in Ohio for most of last year and they picked up right where they left off. I didn’t think there was a team in the state of Ohio that could beat us 10-0.”
Junior striker Honnah Susor, a first-team all-conference pick last season, is one of 10 returning starters for the Eagles. Susor had 27 points last season, on 11 goals and five assists, and leads the team with five goals this year.
Other returning starters include senior fullback Kasey O’Shea, a first-team All-TRAC pick in 2011, junior keeper Alyssa Heintschel, senior fullbacks Sarah Row and Lindsay Schiavone, senior midfielders Kendyl Christian and Megan Soncrant, junior fullback Haley Kubicki, senior striker Abby Groll and sophomore midfielder Kara Simon.
Schiavone is a captain along with Heintschel and Christian, who are three-year captains.
“The captains have put this group of girls on their back,” Wamer said, “and they have led and shown by example.”
The coach added that although the Eagles don’t have blazing speed, “we have good speed and we have a back line that can run with the best offenses.”
“We are a smart team and they play intelligently,” he said. “I’m backed up by what I think is the best keeper in northwest Ohio.”
Heintschel was the TRAC’s Keeper of the Year last season and garnered first-team all-district honors after notching 111 saves. She had 34 saves in Clay’s first six matches this season.
“She looks outstanding,” Wamer said. “She’s been well-coached coming up and she definitely is a difference maker. She has athleticism and she plays at a high level (of competition) outside of high school soccer.”
Wednesday night’s win over St. Ursula gave every indication that the Eagles are ready to make a run at the TRAC championship, according to Wamer.
“Our goal was to win the league championship since the get-go,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of three-year varsity players and one four-year varsity player (Christian). We think it’s our turn. They’ve put in the time and (Wednesday) just put us one step closer, but we’re far from being finished.”