TOLEDO – District championships never come easy. That is something that the Archbold boys soccer team now knows after getting scores from Austin Welch, Josh Kidder and A.J. Short, while goalkeeper Elijah Robison made a pair of critical saves to propel the Streaks to a 3-2 win over Ottawa Hills Saturday in a penalty kick shootout after regulation and two overtimes resulted in a 1-1 tie.
“It’s something that we’ve never experienced as a team,” said Archbold coach Sean Stewart of the game. “So it was nerve racking, that’s the best way I can put it. But you know you put your best kids out there and you hope that they perform. Elijah (Robison) stepped up huge and made a big save for us.”
Robison, who clinched the win when he stopped Kevin Hileman’s shot in the shootout, was very humble when describing his impact on the Blue Streak victory.
“I have to give it up to my team and my defense,” he said. “They have really done a great job. They have an insane work ethic.”
Both the Blue Streaks and Green Bears attempted to break the tie late in regulation, however, Robison, as well as Green Bear keeper Max Seifried, were up to the challenge then and into overtime.
With 11:30 left in the first overtime, Archbold’s Kegan Ott fired a shot from 20 yards out that Seifried snagged. Then, at the 4:40 mark, Robison did the same on a shot from Spencer Bergman of Ottawa Hills.
The Green Bears threatened with under a minute left in the first overtime session as Noah Dewhirst booted one off a rebound that again was saved by Robison.
The defense’s stole the show in the second overtime as well. The only two quality attempts came from Josh Kidder for the Streaks and Hileman of the Bears, but both came up short, sending the game into a penalty kick shootout per OHSAA rules.
Welch opened with a goal down the middle to start, then Garrett Robinson answered for Ottawa Hills. Archbold’s Jeremy Lerma had his shot bounce off the top post, while Dewhirst’s shot deflected off the right side post.
Kidder broke the tie with a goal on the right side, then Robison blocked Seifried’s shot to keep Archbold in front, 2-1.
Short’s slow-rolling goal made it a 3-1 Blue Streak advantage, however, Jan Durst of Ottawa Hills buried one in the right corner of the net to make it 3-2.
After Bedsole’s attempt was saved by Seifried, it was all up to Hileman to keep the Green Bear season alive. He tried the left side and Robison made the diving stop, sending the Streaks to the Division III regional tournament on Wednesday.
“You just hope you are right when you guess,” said Robison on his thoughts during the penalty kicks. “It is pretty much luck but God helped out a lot.”
The Streaks got out to a 1-0 lead in the first half, scoring when Bedsole got to a loose ball in front of the Green Bear net and fired it home just 3:46 in. However, the Streaks went scoreless from that point on despite at times having heavy offensive pressure.
“I thought we controlled the vast majority of the game,” noted Stewart. “We played a nice game as far as controlling tempo, controlling play. Sometimes you’ll have those days and for whatever reason, in the final third we just wouldn’t put it together. We will work on it.”
Ottawa Hills took advantage of Archbold’s offensive woes early in the second half on the foot of Donovan Demilt. Driving in from the left, Robison came out a little far to meet Demilt, getting out of position as Demilt scored on the open goal to tie the score at one.
“We don’t play a lot on turf. And our keeper’s slide took him out of the box,” said Stewart of the play. “On grass he probably would have just stuck right there. Those things happen and you’ve got to pick up your teammates and move on.”
Archbold (17-2) returns to Ottawa Hills on Wednesday when they will face Fort Jennings in the regional semifinal. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
The Streaks are familiar with the Musketeers, falling to them 3-1 in the season opener back on Aug. 22.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010