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Published: Wednesday, 9/27/2006

Ottawa Hills gets a leg up on TAAC title

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Ottawa Hills may have clinched the Toledo Area Athletic Conference soccer title with its 1-0 victory over Maumee Valley at Ottawa Hills' Niedermeier Stadium last night.

But the win sure didn't come easy.

The visiting Hawks had opportunities to score from start to finish, but were thwarted by Ottawa Hills' goalkeeper Matt Pranckun and the Green Bears defense.

"If we had gotten one of those [shots] early in the match to go, it might have been a different game," Maumee Valley coach Dave Prediger said. "But they played a great game and scored on a great shot.

"If you're going to lose, that's how you want to lose - on a good shot."

The game's lone goal came at 28:25 of the second half when senior Evan Trickey lofted a left-footed shot from 20 yards outside the goal that went over the arms of Maumee Valley goalie John Anspach and just under the crossbar.

"When we scored we could believe in ourselves a little bit," Ottawa Hills coach Greg McElroy said.

"There's a sigh of relief. But soccer is notorious for [having the other team] score in the five minutes after you score. That's why I yelled at our kids to keep the pressure on them."

The goal seemed to energize the Green Bears, who pinned the Hawks deep in their defensive zone for five minutes after the score but failed to score.

And then Maumee Valley took several shots at tying the contest. One came with 20 minutes to play when the Green Bears failed to control a loose ball in front of their goal. The Hawks also had a chance on a corner kick four minutes later but never were able to corral the loose ball.

Maumee Valley's Nathan Stern took a point-blank shot on the Ottawa Hills goal with five minutes to play that Pranckun had to turn aside, and Yadi Aliakbar saw a shot curve just wide in the game's final seconds.

"They're a talented team - they've got some of the top players in the area on their team," McElroy said. "It was quite a task for us to shut them down."

With the win OH is 6-0-4 overall and 4-0-1 in the TAAC, with that lone tie coming against Toledo Christian. Ottawa Hills already has beaten the Eagles and needs only to win its final two league games to claim the TAAC title.

Those remaining league games are against Cardinal Stritch and Emmanuel Christian, teams the Green Bears have beaten by a combined score of 14-2 this year.

"It's good that we're in the driver's seat, but it's bad that our guys may think they've already accomplished the task [of winning the TAAC]," McElroy said.

"We still have two games to play, and anyone can beat anyone in any game."

Maumee Valley is 5-3-1 overall and 2-2 in the TAAC.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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