Quick scores lift Ottawa Hills Green Bears over Lake
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FINDLAY - The Ottawa Hills Green Bears have been known for fast starts in the tournament and yesterday's start was no different.
The Green Bears scored two goals in the game's first 10 minutes and never looked back en route to a dominating 4-0 victory over the Lake Flyers in their Division III regional final at Findlay's Graham Memorial Stadium.
O-H (18-3), which had scored goals in the game's first few minutes in wins over Ottoville in the regional semifinals and Bluffton in the district finals, rode two early tallies on the way to its 12th-straight victory. The win gives the Green Bears their first-ever berth in the state semifinals, as they out-shot the
Flyers (15-5-1) by a very lop-sided 34-4 count.
"We're very excited," said O-H coach Greg McElroy. "We were here [regionals] two years ago and lost. Our senior leadership has been outstanding this season and they [the seniors] wanted to get Ottawa Hills to a place it had never been before."
Green Bear junior midfielder Eliot Browarsky led the attack for OH with a goal and assist, as he had a hand in both goals to start the game.
The first came at the 4:23 mark when he found Jack Jamieson for a header on the right side of the Flyer goal box. The second came on a header of his own off a corner kick from Ben Bryant just under the 10-minute mark.
"It was great ball by Ben
[Bryant), said Browarsky of his goal. "He always seems to find me on those corners and he just put it right where it needed to be for me."
The Green Bears kept their high-pressure attack going strong throughout the remainder of the first half, putting a total of 15 shots on net in the first half alone to Lake's two.
Josh Bruner added a late first-half goal with 5:38 left to push the Green Bears' lead to 3-0, as Flyer junior goaltender Scott Hartman was one of the busiest players on the field. The Flyer goaltender made four first-half saves, as Ottawa Hills had eight shots on net in the first 40 minutes. He would finish with 12 total, making eight more stops in the final half. Ottawa Hills goaltender Kevin Elliot finished with two saves in the shutout.
"He's been great for us all year," said Lake coach Chad Lillich of Hartman. "He kept us in quite a few games in the tournament. We were out-shot in pretty much every game and he kept us right there."
Hartman's play was key for the Flyers in the second half, as OH kept its foot on the gas, collecting a total of 19 shots to the Flyers' two. Lake would finally get the ball on the Green Bears' side of the field just past the midway point of the half, as the undersize Flyers had trouble getting into their ball control style of play.
Ottawa Hills picked up its final marker on a goal by Ahmad Abdel Kalim at the 25:15 mark, as the Bears brought an end to the Flyers' magical season that saw them make it to regional play for the first time in school history after a 6-10 record a season ago.
"Our kids have learned from this," said Lillich. "It's disappointing for us right now, but it'll motivate these kids to work harder this off-season, get in the weight room more and practice a little harder, so that we can get back to this point again."
As for the Green Bears, who had been to the regionals for the second time in three years, they know there's still work to be done, despite the huge accomplishment.
"It felt great to get back here [regionals] and redeem ourselves," said Browarsky, who was a freshman in Ottawa Hills last regional appearance. "Still though, we know we need to play a lot better than we did today even to have a chance these next two games."
"We've been very fortunate to get off to quick starts in the tournament," said McElroy. "I like what I'm seeing from this team, but it's not going to come that easy. We've had some fortunate bounces and goals and hopefully we're ready for the next game."