ASHLAND, Ohio - Only once this season had Northview's girls soccer team left the field at the end of a match without scoring a goal.
The 10th-ranked Wildcats had outscored their five playoff opponents by a decisive 20-1 edge. They posted shutouts the past four contests.
But Northview (18-3-1) had not faced a team quite like sixth-ranked Strongsville.
The Mustangs and goalie Nicole Wood made Northview's first experience in a Division I girls regional final yesterday a long and disappointing one.
Wood registered seven saves to help Strongsville blank Northview 3-0 at Ashland Community Soccer Stadium.
The Mustangs scored all their goals after halftime and two came on penalty kicks.
"We played great defense in the first half, the second half there were some unlucky breaks," Northview coach Rick Burgin said. "I'm still proud of our girls."
Northview senior goalie Kelsey McCoy didn't allow a knee injury to keep her off the field for a second straight match. She practiced only once since suffering the injury in a district final against Perrysburg and considered herself "about 75 percent" healthy.
She held her own, recording four saves, but clearly wasn't quite herself in goal.
"I know my team really wanted me in there and it was a shot of a lifetime," McCoy said. "I'd never been in a final four and I wasn't about to pass it up."
Strongsville's Katie Peterlin finally broke a scoreless tie when she was credited with a goal during the first three minutes of the second half. The officials discussed whether or not the shot broke the plane of the goal before ruling it did count to give Strongsville a 1-0 edge.
It was nearly eight minutes later when the Mustangs (21-1-1) went ahead 2-0 on a penalty kick by Danielle Hubka after a Wildcat was called for tripping near the Northview goal.
Paige Langhals capped the Mustangs' scoring with a penalty kick that came as a result of Noel Luther being called for touching the ball with her hands while standing in front of the goal.
Strongsville produced 15 shots on goal, while Northview was credited with 10.
McCoy credited the Mustangs for their play.
"They were definitely one of the best teams [we've played] and I wouldn't doubt if they win state," McCoy said. "I think we hung with them, but some unlucky plays and unlucky breaks."
Strongsville coach Jon Felton said even when they went ahead in the second half he remained concerned about the Wildcats.
"Rich [Burgin] does a good job of keeping his girls going," Felton said. "Even when it was 3-0 with 10 minutes to play they were still out there playing hard. Most teams down 2-0 might throw in the towel, but they kept going and going."
Burgin said he didn't really consider playing backup goalie Lexi Fisher, a sophomore, in place of McCoy, two-year starter.
"She hadn't had enough experience, so to put her in that situation, we had to go with the experience," Burgin said.
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