Chris Ellis' eight goals ranks second on Southview this year behind Daniel Blackmar, whose 27 goals leads the Cougars. But Blackmar will miss his second consecutive game today in Sandusky.
THE BLADE/LORI KING
Southview is a team on a mission.
Frankly, the unranked Cougars believe they're a team of destiny still alive in the Division I boys soccer tournament.
"This is the furthest Southview has ever been in the state tournament and we want to keep on playing," Southview coach Chad Cody said.
Southview (16-3-2) faces Aurora (16-3-2) in a state semifinal today at Sandusky High.
Also, Ottawa Hills (17-2-2) takes on Gates Mills Hawken (16-1-4) in a Division III state semifinal today at Sandusky Perkins High. The Green Bears are also an unranked group still playing in the tournament believing they're a team of destiny.
"I definitely think we're more than capable of winning this game [today]," Ottawa Hills coach Robert Gabriel III said. "It's just a matter of us going out there and playing."
Nevertheless, the Cougars have come on strong, particularly at this stage of the season.
In Southview's five tournament matches the Cougars have outscored their opponents 11-4, which includes a resounding 3-1 victory against Westlake in a regional final.
"I think the guys work hard for 80 minutes," Cody said. "They never quit."
Southview, which has outscored its opponents 66-31, faces an Aurora team that has outscored its opposition 65-19. The Greenmen enter the match winners of nine of their last 12 contests, including a 1-0 victory over Lakewood St. Edward.
Cody expects a tough challenge from the Greenmen.
The Cougars will play for the second straight contest without leading scorer Daniel Blackmar, who leads the team with 27 goals and six assists.
Chris Ellis (eight goals), Jared Yoshino (seven goals), and Jared Lyle (17 assists) have responded with Blackmar sidelined with a leg injury.
Goalie Eric Breeden, who has 44 saves on the year, has been steady in the net to help keep the Cougars' season alive.
"It speaks to the overall depth we have on this team to keep on going without him," said Cody, of Southview's tournament run with Blackmar sidelined.
Meanwhile, the Green Bears have won 15 of their last 16 matches, including 11 straight victories dating back to September.
A 1-1 tie with Springfield on Sept. 22 interrupted a four-game win streak that started the Green Bears' impressive 16-game run without a loss. They'll take on a Hawks team that has won 10 of its past 12 matches.
"When you're playing a team at this stage of the season they're going to be a good team," Gabriel said. "Are we ready? Yes, I believe we're ready."
Ottawa Hills is playing the best soccer its played all season. Four of the Bears' five tournament wins have been shutouts. They've outscored their opponents 13-1, including a 2-0 win over Mansfield Christian School in a regional final.
"We really found ourselves midseason, pretty much after the Springfield game," Gabriel said. "We've improved every game. To be quite honest, we're still improving and that's why we're still playing."
Brandon Zakeri leads the Green Bears with a team-high 20 goals and eight assists. Blake Pappas has also been quite effective near the net, recording 15 goals and eight assists.
Nick Hauck and Sam Brochin have scvored seven goals apiece while Cory Stein has delivered four goals and three assists. Garrett Robinson (three goals, five assists) and Chris King (three goals, two assists).
Four-year goalie Michael Geiger has 142 saves for Ottawa Hills.
"This year we've got better team chemistry," Gabriel said. "There's a lot of respect throughout the team, coaching staff and players. I think that has played a role this year."