Losing in the Division III district finals for the second straight year last Saturday, a 5-0 loss to Oak Harbor, wasn’t an easy pill to swallow for Woodmore’s girls soccer team, but there’s always next year.
First-year Wildcats coach Jason Allen is really – really – looking forward to next year.
“The experience is there,” said Allen, who graduates just two senior starters. “I think the team can go that far (regionals) with the experience we’re adding with the freshmen. I told them during the medal presentation at the district game, ‘remember this image and how you feel right now. I want you to think about that and remember that going into next year.’ I’m really looking forward to next year, and I think the girls are as well.”
The Wildcats, who beat Oak Harbor 3-2 on Sept. 3, had a 16-game winning streak snapped by the Rockets (17-1-1). They finished 18-2 to set a school record for single-season victories and won the Northern Buckeye Conference title, the school’s first in girls soccer.
Senior midfielder Leah Henry and senior defender Grace Weirich will have to be replaced in 2014, but Woodmore will return nine starters and add 9-12 talented freshmen, according to Allen.
“Nine of them have played soccer at the club level,” he said.
The ‘Cats started the postseason with a 5-0 rout of Genoa, then beat Huron 3-2 in the sectional final. Woodmore faced a rugged Archbold team in the district semis and emerged with a 1-0 double-overtime victory. Maddy Hines scored the game’s only goal, from about 10 yards out, from a cross from Kiersten Perez.
“Archbold was the best team left in the district semis,” Allen said. “I think if they would have played Oak Harbor, they would have taken Oak Harbor. They were good. (Keeper) Julia Barbee played outside her mind that night. She had 18 saves that night. She was crazy. She played really well and our defense played really well. We did what we needed to do to keep the ball out of the goal.”
Allen said the Wildcats controlled the ball for about 75 percent of the first overtime, yet couldn’t score. Woodmore also had the ball in Archbold’s end of the field for most of the second OT.
“The Archbold girls were getting tired,” Allen said. “In my opinion, Archbold was the best team left of those four district teams. For us, it was a huge win. We knew it was going to be the toughest game we’d had all season.”
The ‘Cats had a tougher time against 10th-ranked Oak Harbor. They trailed 2-0 at the half and never could generate any offense.
“That Archbold game took a lot out of us,” Allen said, adding that Oak Harbor coach Renee Goldstein deserves credit for having her team ready to play.
“Her girls wanted it more and had that will to win, and they had a chip on their shoulder after we had beaten them in the regular season,” Allen said. “We were not overconfident. The speech I had the day before and the day of the game, I said, ‘this is going to be your toughest test all year.’ Oak Harbor had a chip on their shoulder and they were ready to come out and beat us.”
Allen said he reminded his squad after the loss to appreciate their record-setting season.
“I told them there was no reason to have their heads down,” he said. “I told them to hold their head up high, because they are the best team Woodmore soccer has ever had and that’s something to be proud of.”
Sophomore striker Courteney Buchanan led the Wildcats in scoring, with 14 goals and three assists. Freshman Camryn Bench had 13 goals and one assist, while Hines had nine goals and nine assists, Lily Rothert had six goals and eight assists, and Henry had seven goals and five assists. Barbee, a junior, finished with 83 saves.