Corrected version: Updates who scored the goals for Perrysburg.
Maddy Williams took the ball at her feet and beat not one, but two defenders. Finally, less than 10 yards away from the goal, the captain of the Perrysburg girls soccer team needed just one touch to beat the opposing goalie.
The goal wasn’t just aesthetically pleasing. Williams’ tally helped cement the Yellow Jackets’ 4-0 win against Clay in a Division I district semifinal Tuesday at Southview.
Four different players scored for Perrysburg, which will face either Mansfield or Ashland at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Findlay High School in the Division I district final.
Ranked second in the nation in this week's National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, the Yellow Jackets (18-0) took a 2-0 lead over the Eagles (10-6-2) with less than 10 minutes left in the half on goals by Lucy Walton and Sarah Quimby.
Despite their lofty national ranking and the fact that they have yet to give up a goal this season, Williams said the Yellow Jackets weren't about to look past their opponent.
“We had to play them like they were the best team in the state,” Williams said. “We know we can't underestimate anyone because it's tournament time, and anything can happen. So we went in, playing the hardest that we could, and we got the result that we needed to.”
The Yellow Jackets set the tone of the first half with defense, allowing the Eagles only a handful of scoring chances, then nearly took a 3-0 lead with six minutes left in the half when Molly Whitacre's shot deflected off the hands of Clay goalie Alyssa Heintschel (eight saves), bounced off the crossbar and went up into the air.
“Our game plan was to slow them down,” Clay coach Scott Wamer said. “We played only one attacker in the first half so we didn't push many bodies forward on the offensive side of the ball. The second half, we went back to a normal formation and a normal game plan and started to attack.”
Clay’s game plan, Wamer said, was to keep the Jackets from making any significant offensive dent.
“We were hoping that our game plan in the first half would have gotten us to halftime with a 0-0 tie and then make a decision to what we wanted to do in the second half,” Wamer said. “So I would say for us, when they scored that first goal, it was a turning point because we knew that we weren’t sending many attackers. We had to change what we were doing.”
Williams and Allex Brown gave Perrysburg a 4-0 lead in the second half, but despite doubling the number of shots on Perrysburg goalie Chloe Buehler, Clay couldn’t capitalize on a pair of corner kicks in the final 10 minutes, which came moments after the Eagles were unable to finish a scoring chance in front of the Yellow Jackets goal crease.
“They picked up their intensity after halftime and that made us pick up our intensity,” Williams said. “That helped, and we got those extra two goals. But [Clay] picked it up in the second half, changed their formation and played better as a team.”
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.