The Woodmore girls soccer team’s motto, Together As One, is certainly holding true this season under first-year coach Jason Allen.
“We’re playing together as a unit,” Allen said. “I don’t have that one stud on my team who’s scoring tons of goals, or one person stepping up on defense. It’s more of a collective effort, just a unit. I have 18-20 girls who give me everything they’ve got.”
Woodmore traveled to Lake on Thursday and beat the Flyers 2-1 to clinch the Northern Buckeye Conference championship. The ‘Cats had never won a league title in girls soccer.
“It was great for us,” Allen said. “They had a good season last year, but I think the camaradarie and cohesiveness made a difference this year. My girls worked really hard to get to this point.”
Woodmore (12-1, 9-0 NBC), which beat Lake 2-0 on Sept. 12, entered Thursday’s game as the third-ranked Division III team in the Northwest Ohio coaches’ poll.
“No other program has beaten Lake twice in the same season, and that was huge for us,” Allen said. “We waited until we got on the bus to celebrate tonight, out of respect. It’s a plus for the entire community of Elmore. When we got into town the bus went through town and we were flashing our lights and honking the horn.”
Senior captain and center midfielder Leah Henry, who had an assist and scored the winning goal at the 14:31 mark of the second half, said winning the NBC title and beating Lake in the process “means a lot.”
“It’s very exciting, being a senior and finally being able to beat Lake twice, and on their own turf,” Henry said. “This means everything. Everyone worked so hard for it. Everybody came together and we were able to pull it off. I’m not surprised, I’m just proud. I knew we could do it. We worked hard for it.”
Camryn Bench, a freshman striker/midfielder, scored the first goal Thursday against Lake. Sophomore striker Courteney Buchanan assisted on Henry’s goal for the Wildcats, who have won 10 in a row.
“I’m not surprised,” said Allen, who also coaches women’s lacrosse at Defiance College. “When I came to this program in May, I realized there was talent on the team and we had a chance to do well. I think the biggest motivating factor has been our team goal, to win the league. That’s something we wanted to do and we (weren’t) going to stop until we did it.”
Woodmore has outscored its opponents by a 52-11 margin and is led in scoring by Buchanan, who has 12 goals and three assists.
“Courtney just has a determination factor,” Allen said. “She’s determined to succeed and she has a knack for being at the right place at the right time. We joke with her that out of those 12 goals, 11 of those have been within three yards of the goal. It’s not an accident. She’s just in the right place at the right time and makes the right runs.”
Bench is second on the team with 10 goals.
“Before the season she told me she was a defender,” Allen said. “I said OK and put her at defense and didn’t like what I saw. I put her up top at striker for the first or second game and she ended up scoring against Eastwood when we beat them 2-1. I’ve had her at striker and midfield ever since because of her speed.”
Seventeen different players have scored goals for the ‘Cats this season. Jordan Williams has five goals and four assists, Henry has five goals, and Emma Rothert and Sarah Blausey have three apiece. Maddy Hines and Lily Rothert share the team lead in assists, with six apiece.
“Leah scores goals when she needs to,” Allen said. “She doesn’t have all the (big) stats, but she gives me effort every single game. Maddy is very consistent and controls the midfield with Leah. Sarah Blausey is amazing, the best defender I have on the team. She’s just fast and has saved us a few times on defense. She gives me 120 percent every game.”
Junior keeper Julie Barbee has 45 saves and has benefitted from a strong defense in front of her, Allen said. Barbee had seven saves on Thursday and was awarded the game ball.
“She’s done a good job,” Allen said. “There have been situations where some other teams, like Lake and Oak Harbor, have had some breakaways and she’s made some key stops for us.”
Woodmore is the only team to defeat state-ranked Oak Harbor (11-1-1) this season. Allen said assistant coach Rachel Swope has been a huge help.
“I don’t know where I’d be without her,” Allen said. “She’s just a lifesaver for me.”