Written by Mark Griffin
Saturday, 25 October 2008 19:07
Forgive the Clay girls soccer team if you heard it chanting "de-fense, de-fense" on the field this season.
Coach Scott Wamer's squad, led by keeper Hallie Thompson, finished 2008 with a school-record 11 shutouts and allowed just 13 goals in 19 matches.
"Defense was a huge key to the success we had this season," Wamer said.
Alyssa Powell, a move-in from Toledo Christian, Erika Mills, Morgan Magdich and Eryn Simon led the defense, which "came up big when we needed to," according to Wamer.
The Eagles' season ended on Tuesday with a 2-1 loss to Perrysburg in a Division I district semifinal at Timberstone Junior High in Sylvania.
Clay, which beat the Yellow Jackets 1-0 on Aug. 20 at Perrysburg, finished the season with a 13-2-4 overall record and took first place with a 3-0-1 mark in Division I in the Northwest Ohio High School Soccer League.
One of the Eagles' highlights was a 1-0 victory over St. Ursula Academy in the sectional finals last Saturday at Whitmer. Meghan Scharer, a junior center-midfielder, had the game-winning goal with 15 minutes left in the match.
Clay and SUA tied 2-2 during the regular season.
"They knocked us out of the tournament the last two years," Wamer said. "It was bittersweet revenge to send them home for once instead of them sending us packing. We won the league title with that tie because St. Ursula and Central had a 0-0 tie, which gave us that one extra point to win the league."
The Eagles repeated as NWOHSSL champions despite graduating nine seniors from last year's squad.
"This was very unexpected," Wamer admitted. "To be honest, it was chemistry. We had a little adversity and made it through that, and we had chemistry. We played with a lot of heart this year.
y five captains - Scharer, Simon, Nikki Steinmetz, Toni Hernandez and Thompson - played a big part. We started out with four captains and I named Hallie a permanent captain because of her leadership and her play in goal."
Clay went seven matches without a loss before falling to Perrysburg on Tuesday. The Eagles trailed 2-0 at halftime and couldn't generate enough offense for a comeback.
"We won the second half," Wamer said, "but it just wasn't enough."
Sharer led Clay with 13 goals and added five assists this season, while Steinmetz had seven goals and six assists and Simon, a defender, had seven goals and four assists.
Thompson, meanwhile, had 157 saves to help the Eagles set a school record for goals-against average at 0.68.
"She did an outstanding job as first-year starter," Wamer said. "We lost an all-league keeper (Jessica Dolt) last year, and Hallie was able to come in and stay status quo."
Wamer added that 2008 was "a season of no expectations."
"We only had one senior (Hernandez) this year," he said. "I had four freshmen playing at one time. We overachieved the entire season and that was due to their work ethic and the pride they had as a team."