Story by Jim Horvath | BeAFanatic.com
Photos and Video by Larry Bennet
No. 3 Holy Name scored early in the fifth minute and tacked on two more goals in the first half to stun the No. 2 Rockets, 3-0, in a Division II district semifinal game Monday night.
The loss abruptly ended Bay’s hopes of a district championship and brought a conclusion to one of the program’s best seasons. The Rockets closed out the 2012 season at 15-2-1, while Holy Name moved on to Thursday night’s district title game at Rocky River.
The No. 1 Pirates, behind two goals from Abby Elinsky, defeated Padua, 4-2, to earn a chance at defending their district championship of a year ago.
“Our goal was to try and start fast,” said Holy Name head coach Brian Michelson, whose team again moved to 14-2-2 and advanced to the district title game for a rematch with the Pirates.
“We knew what Bay was going to try to do against us playing the long balls,” Michelson said. “We wanted to make sure that we got behind the ball, and then attack. We have a very good offensive team that really likes to go at people. Throughout the season, we got our chemistry down.
“We’ve got two young players in sophomore Caroline Dreher and freshman Sarah Krause who can really go to goal. They create a lot of great situations for us,” he added.
Holy Name survived Bay’s aggressive attack and countered with one of it’s own. The Green Wave pushed the ball up field, with Dreher finishing off the play for a 1-0 lead. It was one of the few times this season the Rockets had to play from behind, and matters only got worse as the first half wore on.
In the 13th minute, Krause took the ball to the far right corner and crossed the ball into the box. Waiting in the crease was sophomore Peyton Davis, who outdueled the Bay defense for the ball and headed itl past keeper Margaret Francati.
With 27:37 left in the half, Holy Name had a 2-0 lead. The Green Wave defense continued to hold off the Rockets, then Dreher struck again.
With 12:05 left in the half, the Holy Name midfielder took a pass from sophomore Sara Semple and struck the ball from a tough angle on the far right side. The ball found its way to the inside of the far post, and the Rockets were reeling down 3-0.
“The first four minutes, we were all over them,” said Bay head coach Jack Griffiths. “They did cross midfield, and we got a lot of shots off. We just didn’t put any of them in, and then they countered us.
“Then we got down on ourselves. They’re a very good team, and they’re very fast. Krause and Dreher are very good players. But if we could have scored a goal in the first couple of minutes, the game probably would have been different.
“We haven’t been behind much this season. We’ve played a tough schedule, and we’ve jumped on teams early. We got behind 2-0, then we gave up the long goal. But again, we knew they were very good at shooting from the outside.
“Especially Dreher, and we didn’t shut her down,” he added. “We gave her way too much space.”
Bay had a number of chances to get on the board before the half, but couldn’t finish any opportunities. In the 33rd minute, Maddie Drenkhan had a chance at a breakaway attempt, but couldn’t control the ball at the end line. In the 37th minute, Drenkhan got the ball to Dakota Meisenburg, but Green Wave keeper Jacqueline Yanak made the save.
In the second half, the combination of seniors Alex Brown and Eva Rezek worked the ball deep into Holy Name territory a number of times, to no avail. Any crossing attempt by Rezek was stopped at the post by Yanak.
Bay’s last shot came in the 78th minute when a Brown attempt hit the side of the net from the left side.
“It was a great team effort tonight,” Michelson said. “It wasn’t just one individual. It was good possession on our part. We countered, and got a lot of good possession throughout the game.
“We do a lot of strength and condition to prepare ourselves for the teams we have on our schedule. We’re prepared for the speed because we’ve played fast teams all year. Because of that, our girls got used to having to defend it,” he added.
“Our kids played very well in the second half, but we were down,” Griffiths said. “Their mindset was down after that third goal. We got the ball down in the corner several times. We get one of those in, then who knows? It’s all about momentum. We had it in the first five minutes, but it didn’t happen.”
Griffiths took a moment to reflect on what his team’s seniors had accomplished over the past four years, including tri-captains Brown, Francati and Marci Walter.
“This is a special group. I’ve been here five years now with the varsity, and it’s been Alex up front and Margaret minding the net. That’s how it’s been. Marci played a heck of a game at stopper, but overall they were just too quick for us.
“The downside is their best two players, in my mind, are a freshman and a sophomore. They’re going to be around for a while, which means we’re going to have to figure this out if we’re going to get out of the district in the future,” he added.