OAK HARBOR — Only four teams remain alive for a chance to win the Division III girls soccer state championship.
Oak Harbor, ranked 10th in the final Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association poll, is among the short list of survivors who still have a shot at a title.
Of course, the Rockets, winners of 16 straight games dating back to the first half of the season, have steadily performed at a high level to keep themselves in contention.
“They’re finally believing in themselves and realizing just how good they are,” Oak Harbor coach Renee Goldstein said.
Goldstein, who is in her 11th season as the Rockets’ coach, has had five previous had five teams make it to the district championship only to lose in the final.
This year the Rockets (19-1-1) not only won the district, but captured a regional championship by toppling Liberty-Benton 2-1.
Oak Harbor will play third-ranked Gates Mills Hawken (15-1-5) in a state semifinal today at Sandusky.
“They just have to believe in themselves,” she said. “I know we’re in it. I know these girls, and I know how much they want it.”
Oak Harbor has steamrolled through the tournament. It opened with a 5-1 victory over Cardinal Stritch, then followed that with three shutouts by defeating Swanton 2-0, Woodmore 5-0, and Continental 3-0 before stopping Liberty-Benton.
The Rockets have outscored their playoff opponents 17-2 and their opponents this season 131-14.
Oak Harbor is an offensive juggernaut, led by freshman Emma Barney and sophomore Paige Velliquette.
Barney has tallied 30 goals and a team-high 20 assists, while Velliquette leads the team with 33 goals while also dishing out three assists.
The team concept is most apparent with a balanced scoring attack.
Freshman Alexa Weis (16 goals, four assists), sophomore Emily Winters (nine goals, three assists), and freshman Mackenze Auger (10 goals) have contributed to a Rockets attack that involves five players who have scored at least nine goals this season.
“We have great chemistry,” Barney said of their season-long success. “Nobody is mad at each other, and we all work as a team all the time.”
The Rockets have also received steady play from junior goalie Ivy Martin, who has posted 11 shutouts this season. Martin has 99 saves this season.
The Rockets would like nothing better than to continue with such a scoring disparity for two more outings.
A large turnout of supporters have followed the team throughout their tournament run. In fact, people throughout town lined the streets leading up to the high school to welcome back the Rockets after their regional final victory.
The Rockets believe making it to the state title game would be the ultimate accomplishment.
“I think it would bring a lot of pride to the school knowing that we would get this recognition,” Martin said.