By DOUG CHAPIN
After slogging out a 1-0 victory Monday night over Canfield, the Boardman High girls soccer team doesn’t have much time to celebrate such a big win.
The Spartans (8-3-1) have a Federal League showdown on Wednesday at Massillon Jackson, ranked 10th in Ohio’s Division I in the latest statewide coaches poll.
Boardman and Jackson are both 4-0 in league play. The Spartans also have North Canton Hoover (2-0-2) and Fitch (2-1-1) still to go in league play.
“Tonight, we play a big game, we have an injury [midfielder Danielle Petrus], the girls will be tired and we have to play Massillon Jackson in 48 hours,” Boardman coach Fawzi Mujahed said. “It’s hard for us, and we have to go away.
“Jackson is a tough team but we will try hard to stay in the championship race,” Mujahed said. “If we tie, I think we still have a good shot to win the Federal League.”
Canfield (7-3-3) is in a similar position with an All-American Conference Red Division battle looming Wednesday against Howland. The Cardinals are 3-1 in division play and the Tigers and Poland both are 2-1-1.
Monday’s contest was billed as Boardman’s offense (46 goals in 11 games) against Canfield’s defense (7 goals allowed in 12 games). It turned out, though, that the Spartans can play a little defense too.
Goalkeeper Teryn Ross came up with nine saves and the Boardman defenders stood up to plenty of late pressure from the Cardinals to notch the shutout.
“Our goalie never played goalie in all her life until this season,” Mujahed said. “We lost our keeper from last year and Teryn came from being a JV defender [last year] and said, ‘Coach, I want to play goal keeper.’ She did an outstanding job tonight and has all season.”
Senior striker Heather Hughes scored the game’s lone goal, her 26th of the season. It came off an assist by Briana Flak with 8:07 remaining in the first half. Hughes manufactured several other good opportunities, including hitting the post in the first minute of the game.
“I’ve been coaching Heather since she was in fifth grade, and I know the way she plays,” Mujahed said. “We knew exactly what we needed in the first half and I told my girls just win the first half. If we scored first I knew we could win.
“I respect Canfield as one of the better teams in the area, but sometimes it seems we don’t get credit at Boardman.”
Canfield had several players out due to injury as the Cardinals saw a six-game unbeaten streak end.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries and our fill-in players are a little bit young and inexperienced. We’re just trying to get healthy right now,” Canfield coach Phil Simone said.
“Both of Boardman’s forwards are fast and gifted up top and with three of our backline starters out, we tried to pack it back a little bit more in the first half.
“We opened it up more in the second half and we knew they were going to pack it back more in the second half with a one-goal lead.”
Once area schools sort out their respective conference finishes, all eyes will turn to what should be a very competitive Division I sectional/district tournament. The drawing is scheduled for Sunday.