SANDUSKY – An unlucky play put an end to the Archbold boys soccer team’s historic season, as an own goal with 12:54 remaining in the game propelled Canfield South Range past the Blue Streaks 1-0 in the Division III state semifinal held Wednesday at Sandusky.
“It was a beautiful ball,” said Archbold goalkeeper Elijah Robison of the shot put on net, resulting in the own goal. “We just both went up for it and it was an unlucky hit, unlucky bounce, and it deflected into the goal. Nothing much you can do about that.”
“Those things happen in soccer,” added Blue Streak mentor Sean Stewart. “Unfortunately, we didn’t pick him up, and the offense wasn’t able to get one in today. Those things happen when you play a tight game against a good team.”
The Streaks, however, can hold their heads high. In only six years of competing at the varsity level, their program advanced to the state’s final four. Without question, their seniors will leave a legacy for which future teams will strive.
“I was thinking, why didn’t we do it sooner,” joked Robison on qualifying for state as a senior. “It was awesome. It was a great senior year. Every year, Coach tells us that we need to set the bar high, and I think we did this year.”
Archbold had numerous open looks at the net all game long, but few were put on target as they finished with a total of three shots on goal.
Their first golden opportunity came when South Range goalkeeper Brant Rothbauer stopped a shot from A.J. Short at the 26:16 mark of the first half, and the ball then made its way to Josh Kidder, whose shot from the right side sailed over the net.
Shortly after, with 24:09 left in the half, Josh Kidder stole a ball in the Raider zone but his attempt pushed to the left of the goal.
With 15 minutes left, Brooks Thomas of South Range fired a shot on goal from the right side left that Robison deflected to keep the game scoreless. Robison notched four saves on the night.
“Tonight, in the first half, we had a litany of chances, and then they get one chance, and it was the best chance of the game up to that point, and it’s a point blank save,” said Stewart of Robison. “His positioning, his instincts – that’s why I believe he is the best keeper in the state.”
It remained 0-0 until South Range’s Cole Frank put the ball on net that got redirected by an Archbold defender into the back of the net.
The Streaks pressured with two minutes left when Austin Welch put his head to a ball that was airborne, but it failed to find the net. Then, with under a minute to go, Mike Weigand flew toward the goal for a loose ball but he was met by Rothbauer, who grabbed it before a shot could be attempted.
“It’s incredible,” said Stewart, reflecting back on the season. “To come this far in six years is an accomplishment.”
“It was a privilege to work with these guys,” noted Robison. “Their insane work ethic. And just a great bunch of guys on and off the field. It was a privilege to be under Sean (Stewart) and the other coaches.”
Archbold finishes 19-3 on the season. The loss to South Range ended their 19-game winning streak dating back to the second game of the season, when they lost to Van Buren, 2-1.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010