MILLBURY – It was a game that finished the exact opposite of their regular season contest, as Liberty-Benton registered a goal with just over 20 minutes remaining and held off Archbold in the Division III girls soccer regional final Saturday at Lake High School.
It was the first loss of the season for the Blue Streaks who finish at 20-1. On Sept. 11, Archbold hosted Liberty-Benton and came away with a 1-0 victory.
“We were the better team on the field today. We dominated the play,” said Archbold assistant coach Jennifer Kidder. “They packed in their defense. I mean, there was seven and eight people back there the entire game. And we couldn’t get through. Props to them.
“Their keeper had some great saves. We had some quality opportunities, and just didn’t finish.”
Archbold’s Chloe Nofziger had a pair of shots from at least 15 yards in the first half, but each attempt was saved by LB goalkeeper Sophia Aschemeier.
To Kidder’s point, the Streaks continued to put the pressure on in the second half.
Emie Peterson received a pass from Andi Peterson at the 32:06 mark, but Aschemeier was there for the save. Then, nearly five minutes later, Archbold’s Brooke Kohler was awarded a direct free kick and it was tipped up by the keeper and then grabbed.
Kidder pointed to Liberty-Benton’s familiarity with Archbold as a reason for their success defensively.
“We saw it when we played them the first time (in the regular season),” she said. “That’s the thing, we’ve been playing them for so long, they know our style and we know their style. They knew what they needed to do to shut us down today.”
The Streaks then had a small lapse defensively and the Eagles took advantage.
With 20:59 left to play, Savanah Richards swooped in from the right side and fired one over Archbold keeper Leah Hall for the 1-0 lead.
“The one goal that they got, the one shot that they had, is the goal that they got. And then they were able to hold us off,” said Kidder.
The Streaks will now have to say goodbye to five seniors who made a huge impact on this team.
“Our seniors were outstanding this year,” highlighted Kidder. “The leadership (they possess), the foundation for this team. They set the tone from the day we finished last year to now. They’ve been outstanding leaders.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010