The Press Newspaper
For the Oak Harbor girls soccer program, winning is commonplace.
The Rockets have won five consecutive Sandusky Bay Conference titles and consistently make a deep run in the tournament.
For the second time in the program's history, they can now add a state ranking to their resume.
In the first Division III coaches’ poll, Oak Harbor received 44 votes to earn a No. 6 ranking. Gates Mills Hawken, located just outside of Cleveland, was ranked first.
“Its kind-of exciting,” Coach Renee Goldstein said. “We were ranked once a couple of years ago. It just depends on who's ranking the teams and who they've seen. It is flattering. It's nice to know that people respect you enough to vote for you.”
The Rockets are 8-1-1 overall and 6-0-1 in the Sandusky Bay Conference. They've been absolutely dominant in league play in its six years of existence, going a combined 59-1-1. The only loss and tie in SBC play came against Huron, with the 1-1 draw coming on Aug. 31 this season. Oak Harbor's rematch with the Tigers comes on Wednesday with the winner taking the lead in the race for the conference title.
Despite the Rockets' dominance in the league over the past six years, Goldstein believes the league is improving and things will only get tougher for her squad in the future.
The Rockets, who employ a 2-4-4 formation with Ivy Martin in goal, start, Alexa Weis and Paige Velliquette at forward with Ally Croy, Emma Barney, Amanda Hetrick and Emily Winters at the midfielder spots. Karis DeWalt, Hannah Hess, Maddie Rathbun and Noelle Peterson are the defenders.
It's not just the starters that are contributing, however.
Nikki Weis, Mackenzie Auger, Addie Barton, Brittany Watkins, Emily Kamann, Gillian Allen and Tessa Tyburski, Eiriel Davis and Miki Blunt are providing depth and making it so that the team is just as potent when the starters need a break, which is vital in soccer — a sport that requires conditioning.
Also vital is team play, Goldstein said.
“The best thing about this team is their unselfishness,” she said. “That's the kind of team I have, you can't ask for more than that. Even with my starting lineup, I have girls off the bench that can step right in and I don't have to worry. The chemistry is great.”
They also lost to Woodmore, an 8-1 team ranked No. 5 among Northwest Ohio schools, on Sept. 3, Since, the Rockets have reeled off five consecutive wins, outscoring their opponents, 43-6. During that run, freshman Barney has led the team with 12 goals, including three hat tricks, and Velliquette, one of the top scorers from last year, has 11 goals as well as three hat tricks. Alexa Weis has scored seven goals during that span.
However, Golstein the defense is often where games are won.
“I tell the girls 'Don't be upset if I ask you to play defense,'” Goldstein said. “It's a sign of respect. Defense is very important. We try to count the girls' stops and touches.”
They have had to replace seven key seniors from last year's squad, among them Kelsey Lacer, Makayla Carpenter, Amber Burnette and Jordan Giesler, all of whom were captains, as well as Erin Bryant, Sydney Street and Sidney Allen.
Oak Harbor, because of decreased enrollment, was moved down from D-II to D-III this year. The Rockets had a great run in D-II, advancing to the regional final in five of the last 10 years. Moving down a division can be advantageous, but, Goldstein notes, the team will be joining a district that includes quality opponents like Woodmore, Genoa, Liberty-Benton (9-1), Kalida (6-0-1), Archbold (5-1), Ottawa-Glandorf (6-1-2), and Riverdale (5-2-1).
Goldstein says the community’s help in getting the girls involved with the youth programs has gotten the program to where it is today.
“I can't thank the people associated with the youth programs enough,” Goldstein said. “They make my job so much easier and continue to send me some quality players.”