GENOA – From an Archbold standpoint it was an instantly and completely heart breaking moment when the final shootout attempt by the Blue Streaks’ Cassi Wyse was blocked by Swanton goalie Amber Torres, giving the Bulldogs a 4-3 edge in shootout goals and the Division III district championship in Genoa on Halloween Saturday night.
And as painful and devastating as it was for the Archbold players and their fans, it was most likely a shade more difficult for Wyse, the senior three-sport athlete whose laser like shot was unable to reach the back of the net to stay alive and send the contest into a second shootout round.
Instead, a great Streaks’ season came to an end and it will be the Bulldogs who will represent the NWOAL in the regional semifinal in Port Clinton tonight. But make no mistake, this game was so evenly contested it could have easily been the other way around as Wyse and her teammates left absolutely everything on the field.
“Our girls came to battle from the time the game started through the second sudden death overtime,” said Blue Streak assistant coach Jennifer Kidder. “They played their hearts out. It’s just unfortunate to lose.”
Archbold, seeded fourth in this district, had reached the championship game by defeating the second seeded Woodmore Wildcats 3-1, a team that entered the game with a stellar 16-1-1 record. It took a comeback effort to get by the Wildcats, a team that had suffered their only setback early in the season to, ironically enough, Swanton.
Woodmore controlled the early part of the first half and finally took a 1-0 lead with 23:12 left to go when Haley Fruend converted a pass from just out in front of the goal. Not long after falling behind, the Streaks turned the tide and began attacking the Wildcat net. At the 14 minute mark Alicia Hernandez knotted the game at 1-1, a score that held up until halftime.
Both teams spent a great deal of time around the midfield area with neither getting too many scoring opportunities until Emie Peterson shot one past the Wildcat net minder with 7:45 left in the game. When Brooke Kohler scored an insurance goal with just 3:20 remaining, the Blue Streaks knew they were headed for a rematch with the Bulldogs who had beaten Eastwood 3-0 in the earlier game that evening.
“We’re happy to (be) playing Swanton,” said Kidder who was looking for a little payback after losing a tough 1-0 game to the Bulldogs in Archbold exactly five weeks before. With Swanton head coach Jim Dickman earlier expressing the same sentiment on the possible match-up, both coaches got what they wanted.
From the opening whistle it was obvious it was going to be a very physical contest and it proved to be exactly that with one collision after another, player after player hitting the ground and one yellow card being assessed with several more on the verge of being pulled.
Swanton held the early advantage and fired several shots at the net that Archbold goalkeeper Madison Kohler kept out of the net with incredible leaping deflections. “They weren’t just tiny shots either,” remarked an impressed coach Kidder. “They were amazing saves. She kept us in the game.”
But the Bulldogs finally broke through when Jordan Furko launched a shot from about 40 yards away that sailed over Madison Kohler’s outstretched hands and into the net for a 1-0 Swanton lead with 7:08 to go in the first half. The Streaks picked up their intensity but could not score before the break.
In the second half, however, Archbold tied the game with just barely two minutes gone from the clock when, in the middle of a mad scramble in front of the Bulldog goal, Lily Krieger knocked the ball past Torres for a 1-1 score.
Up and down the field the teams went for the next 38 minutes of regulation but nobody could gain an advantage. After a five minute break they battled for another 15, then took a two minute breather and went at it for 15 more, settling nothing. By rule the contest went to the shootout format where each team sends five players to try a shot from a short distance.
Both Swanton and Archbold scored three times after the first four attempts, leaving the outcome to the legs of the last two shooters, Furko for the Bulldogs and Wyse for the Streaks. Furko’s shot was high to the left of Madison Kohler and into the net while Wyse’s blast was lower and to the right and denied by Torres, sending Swanton to the next challenge.
“I give all the credit in the world to our girls,” said Kidder. “They never gave up and they proved they belonged.”
Archbold finishes a very successful year with a 13-5-2 record, second place finish in the NWOAL and a D-III sectional championship.
Bill O’Connell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org