Strongsville midfielder Kelly Novak, 16, recovers the ball after Sylvania Northview defender Ashley Bielski and Strongsville forward Megan Waskowski collide, leaving Waskowski on the ground during the Division I semifinals in Sandusky.
SANDUSKY — Northview's pursuit of making it to the Division I girls soccer state championship match for the first time came to a disappointing end Wednesday night.
Second-ranked Strongsville upended the Wildcats 3-0 in a state semifinal at Cedar Point Stadium.
The Mustangs made it their mission to dominate the action defensively, limiting Northview's offensive opportunities.
Most significantly, the Mustangs made defending Wildcats forward Courtney Hendrix priority No. 1. Hendrix entered with a team-leading 15 goals this season, including game-winners against Anthony Wayne in the district final and Perrysburg in the regional semifinal.
"They had like a front-back kind of thing — one person in front and one person in the back — but most teams have that," Hendrix said. "It made it definitely challenging trying to receive the ball with two players on you."
Strongsville's Elena Griffo, Megan Waskowski, and Nicolette Griesinger accounted for a goal apiece to lead the Mustangs (20-2).
Northview coach Rick Burgin thought Strongsville was one of the fastest teams they've played against. He credited Strongsville for playing a solid all-around contest.
While the defeat halts Northview's state tournament run, this year's Wildcats team staked claim on advancing further than any team in school history.
"They [the Mustangs] are good; they're a great team, but I'm proud of our girls," Burgin said. "We've done well. We had a great run, and this is an absolute thrill."
The Wildcats (13-5-4) entered the game riding a seven-game win streak and hadn't been held scoreless since tying North Royalton on Oct. 8.
However, the Wildcats hadn't faced a team quite like the Mustangs, who entered the match with plenty of confidence while riding a 15-game win streak.
The Wildcats and Mustangs appeared to be heading to a scoreless halftime score. After playing without either side producing much offense, Griffo gave the Mustangs a 1-0 lead by kicking a shot past Northview goalie Alexis Bielski at the 36:59 mark.
Northview had given up three goals or more in a match only twice all season.
Griffo's goal from approximately 10 yards out came off an assist from Kelly Novak.
However, it was the Mustangs' defensive play that ultimately decided the outcome.
"Our defense was strong," Griffo said. "We knew we had to play help-offense and help-defense and just come out with the momentum and confidence. That's what we did today."
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter at demmonsblade.