Anthony Wayne's Abby Allen (3), Katelyn Bixler (12), and Katie Coburn (20) celebrate Bixler's goal against Sylvania Northview during a Division I girls district soccer semifinal Tuesday at Timberstone Junior High.
Anthony Wayne was opportunistic early, then defensively stifling as the Generals shut out Northview in a Division I district girls soccer semifinal Tuesday night.
Anthony Wayne scored two goals during the first 20 minutes, then held on the final 60 minutes for a 2-0 victory at Timberstone Junior High in Sylvania.
The Generals advanced to face Notre Dame in the district final Saturday. The Eagles knocked off Findlay 3-0 in the second semifinal to advance to the district final for the first time in school history.
Anthony Wayne (11-2-4) is seeking the program's first district title. Northview finished with a 10-7 advantage in shots on goal, but its season ended with a 7-4-6 record.
Sophomore forward Abby Allen got AW on the board at the 26-minute, 57-second mark of the first half. Jessie Mattimoe made a nice pass up the field, and the Wildcat defense tried to play it back to goalie Kelly Shoemaker. The ball got past Shoemaker, Allen caught up to it, and tapped it in to the open net.
“One of our goals was to get out early and put them under pressure,” AW coach Lori Williams said. “We were opportunistic.”
Just 6:02 later the Generals went up 2-0 by converting on a corner kick. Junior Susan Nutter sent the long kick across the Wildcats' goal mouth. Junior Katelyn Bixler headed the ball and it deflected off the Northview defenders and into the net.
“Susan played a perfect ball like we practice. I headed it and it pinballed, and it just went in, and that's all that counts,” Bixler said. “We're not ready to be finished.”
The Wildcats asserted pressure and AW keeper Taylor Hill made five saves during a 10-minute span to maintain the two-goal lead. Hill snatched the ball out of midair to stop a Wildcats' set piece on a corner kick with 20:15 left.
General defenders Rachael Brown, Baily Hertzfeld, Bixler, and Allana Bell also had to be stout late in the first half, along with midfielders Sarah Petrell and Nutter.
“I'm confident in them in any situation,” Hill said. “I will put them up against the best. We had a lot of organization in the back.”
Northview had a golden opportunity with 37 seconds left on a 22-yard free kick, but Emma Scanes' boot sailed over the net.
The Wildcats outshot the Generals 4-3 in the first half but trailed by two. The teams tied 1-1 on Oct. 3.
Notre Dame's Hannah Shortridge (8), center, celebrates scoring a goal against Findlay.
Williams said having Bell, who has returned from a hip injury, back in the lineup is crucial. She also said her center backs Hertzfeld and Bixler do a great job anchoring the defense by communicating.
“Our four backs were fantastic but we won this game in the midfield by winning the 50-50 balls,” she said. “[Hill] made some difficult saves. There's a lot of credit to go around. The girls aren't ready to be done and that's an emotion that your opponent can't cage.”
In the second semi, Notre Dame avenged an earlier 1-0 loss to Findlay as the Eagles blanked the Trojans. Junior Marina Zeller scored with 5:29 left in the first half on a rebound following a shot by Dani Johnson, who worked hard to get the shot off.
Senior Hannah Shortridge was the beneficiary of a hustle play by Kassidy Rejent to put the Eagles up 2-0 with 28:47 left. Rejent sprinted to get to a ball before it went over the end line and centered it to Shortridge who punched it home.
Johnson made it 3-0 with 6:03 left when she blasted a shot by Trojans goalie Olivia Bair, who was sharp with nine saves.
“We played with a sense urgency and purpose,” ND coach Chip Smith said. “We fought for every ball like it was our last.”
Notre Dame (10-5-3) carried the play early and Bair was strong. She made a point-blank save on Kate Schoen midway through the first half.
The Trojans (10-4-4), who had several counter attacks and picked up pressure late in the first half, could not cash in on a corner kick at the 17:15 minute mark.
Notre Dame goalie Ahalya Rai, a freshman, made a key save early in the second half to maintain the one-goal edge. Anthony Wayne beat Notre Dame 2-0 on Aug. 25.
“I have so much respect for Anthony Wayne and we're excited for the chance to play them again,” Smith said. “I hope we're not done. I told them to imagine if they're the first to [win a district title].”
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.