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In a true tale of two halves, Anthony Wayne shut out Notre Dame as a strong breeze factored into a tightly contested Division I girls soccer district final on Saturday afternoon.
Each side benefited when it had a sustained wind of about 20 miles per hour directly at its back at Timberstone Junior High School in Sylvania.
Anthony Wayne capitalized in the first half with the game's only goal as the Generals captured the first district championship in school history with a 1-0 win over the Eagles.
Anthony Wayne junior Chloe Brown scored on a header with 14:35 left in the first half. Senior captain Sarah Nutter took a direct kick from about 35 yards out and sent a beautiful pass into the box to Brown, who leaped over a defender and headed in the game winner.
“Susan Nutter had a perfect ball, and I just wanted to keep it in play for my team to finish it. But I got up and it went in,” Brown said. “It was an indescribable feeling.”
Anthony Wayne (12-2-4) had sustained pressure for much of the first half. A young Notre Dame team (10-6-3) ended up finishing with an 8-7 edge in shots with all of the Eagles' shots taken in the second half. Anthony Wayne had three of its shots with the wind at its back.
The Generals march on to face No. 1-ranked Perrysburg on a date to be determined at Bowling Green State University.
“That was pretty crazy,” AW coach Lori Williams said. “That was a goal I won't soon forget. And they had the wind, and they also came out fired up in the second half. I'm tremendously proud of these girls. This is a special group of girls.”
Junior goalie Taylor Hill fought through a cold to post the shutout, making several outstanding saves in the second half.
“This is such an honor to be even playing on this field and to be able to celebrate like this,” Hill said.
Hill credited her entire defense for stepping up and helping her overcome her illness.
“It was so hard. I couldn't talk,” Hill said. “I just knew I had to have it and hold it because they were going to have high pressure with the wind. I kept the ball out of the net.”
AW controlled the pace in the first half, and Notre Dame goalie Ahalya Rai was sharp. The Eagles then stepped on the pressure pedal and earned five corner kicks.
The Eagles' Natalie Deeb sent a shot on a 20-yard free kick just over the net. Rai, a freshman keeper, then made a great save on a point blank chance from Jesse Mattimoe with 27:07 left.
Hill then countered with a leaping save less than a minute later and came up with another great stop with 17:38 left. The Generals' Katie Coburn then had a quality chance thwarted by Rai. Hill made the last key save with 8:32 left when Deeb took a corner kick that was headed right on goal.
“They played well in the first half and we picked it up in the second half, and we created a lot of havoc” Notre Dame coach Chip Smith said. “But credit them. They got their chance and they put it in with a great individual effort. We had some good looks, but Taylor is one of the best goalies in the area.”
Williams said the wind was more of a factor than she would have liked, but Hill was the difference.
“One of our goals today was to shut them out, and Tay had one of her best games today,” she said.
Smith has only two seniors on his roster, and he said his team had some early jitters.
“This is a good opportunity for the program to be here and hopefully the next time we're here we will benefit from this experience,” Smith said.
The Generals earned a rematch with Perrysburg. The Northern Lakes League champion Yellow Jackets beat AW 4-0 on Sept. 12.
AW boys topple Ashland to move on
FINDLAY — Andrew Yokum and Zach Harris scored goals as Anthony Wayne held off Ashland 2-1 in a Division I boys soccer district final Saturday night.
The Generals will meet Southview in the regional semifinals at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Central Catholic.
Yokum got the Generals on the board 12 minutes into the game. Harris’ goal off a crossing pass midway through the second half gave Anthony Wayne a two-goal cushion.
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.