The defenses tightened up after each team recorded a first half goal, as Evergreen and Swanton finished in a 1-1 tie in girls soccer Thursday in Swanton.
With the result, and in light of Bryan’s tie with Wauseon the same night, the Vikings and Golden Bears each earn a share of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League crown. They both finish at 4-0-2 in the league.
“This team is special,” exclaimed Evergreen Coach Joshua Radel of his team winning the program’s first league title. “I started the Evergreen soccer program for these seniors when they were around 5 years old, and as they got older and our varsity program started, I told people then, when we start winning league titles, it will start with these girls. They have worked hard over the years and the younger players have watched them and bought into the program which is why this championship happened. It has been a team effort from the beginning and I can’t express how proud I am of this team. They did it!”
While in the end Evergreen got what they wanted in a share of the NWOAL title, Swanton did all they could to stop them.
“It was an amazing feeling!,” said Swanton Coach Kendra Gustafson on making the Vikings have to sweat it out. “It felt so good to be able to show what we are against the second seed in the tournament. We played so well and that was our goal, was to put the league title in jeopardy, because we saw on social media a few days earlier that they were going to capture (the) league title at Swanton. So when we held them we were excited to keep everyone on their toes that night because it depended on the results of Bryan and Wauseon’s outcome at that point.”
The Vikings scored first on Paige Radel’s blast from the top of the penalty area that touched the crossbar and dropped down behind Swanton goalkeeper Frankie Nelson with 30:41 to go in the first half.
But, the Bulldogs would knot up the score at the 13:55 mark. Miranda Yeager fired one towards the net that went off Viking keeper Kenzie Mitchey and in the left corner of the net, making it a 1-1 game.
Each team had chances but could not capitalize throughout the rest of the match.
“I think what worked well for our girls is we were moving the ball all over the field and our passing was precise and to our feet,” said Gustafson. “I also had (freshman) Miranda Yeager mark Paige Radel since we pointed out early in the game they were looking for her the whole game. Once Miranda took her out of the game, it changed everything.”
Evergreen’s Raegan Radel was on target with a free kick just north of five minutes to go in the first half, that attempt getting saved by Nelson. For Swanton, an Alaina Pelland corner kick was well-placed in front of the net with 59 seconds remaining, only to be punched away by Mitchey.
Raegan Radel tried to bend in a corner kick at the 25:46 mark of the second half; however, Nelson was there in the left-corner to make the save.
Mitchey was also good in net for the Vikings. With 15:07 remaining she saved a Carol Vargas boot from roughly 25 to 30 yards out.
Swanton’s Megan Haselman had a quality look off a pass from Jayden Hendricks with 8:04 to play, but pushed the shot to the right.
Nelson would keep the Vikings off the board, backing up into the goal for a save on Raegan Radel’s shot from the top right of the penalty area with 2:14 remaining.
“This was a very emotional game for our girls with some uncontrollable circumstances surrounding them,” stated Coach Radel. “One being we lost one of our senior leaders (Sydney Woodring) due to an injury and found out right before we got on the bus to head to Swanton that she couldn’t play and so we needed some young players to step up and play some positions they never played before. Factor all that and then some, and we are facing a very talented Swanton team that may not be getting the credit they deserve. Their defense did just enough to not let us get many clean shots and the goalie was outstanding.”
Vikes nip Bobcats 2-1
Saturday the Vikings finished up the regular season with a 2-1 victory over Bowling Green on a raw and windswept day at Pifer Field.
Raegan Radel knocked home the first Viking goal five minutes into the contest from near the 15-yard line on the right side.
Paige Radel added the second with 12:11 left in the half on a feed from Kenzie Mitchey to stake the Vikings to a two-goal lead with the wind.
In the second half with Coach Radel subbing like a hockey line change, the Bobcats scored with 23:57 to go when Maggie Adams got behind the Viking back line for a score.
However, Mitchey took over in goal when Callie Benner was injured on the play and kept the Bobcats scoreless the rest of the way.
Evergreen ended the regualr season with a 12-1-3 record and faces the winner of Continental and Ottawa Hills in a Division III sectional final Thursday at Pifer Field at 5:30 p.m.
Swanton is at Miller City on Tuesday at 5 p.m. for a sectional final.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.