Harding strikes first, but Howland gets win
By John Bassetti
Howland allowed only a half-dozen goals prior to Tuesday’s Division I girls soccer sectional against Warren Harding
That’s why Jackie Callow shocked Howland when she scored just four minutes into the game against the Tigers.
The advantage didn’t last long, however, as Howland proceeded to score five straight goals to win, 5-1.
Erika Nites had two goals, while Taylor Williams, Seyla Perez and Jenn Boyd had single points for Howland, now 16-0-1.
“Give Harding all the credit because they came ready to play and played hard the whole game,” said Howland coach Pat Hovance. “But I’m happy the way our girls rebounded and came back strong.”
If Howland took the Raiders (5-9-2) lightly, the Tigers quickly corrected their outlook and pounced on Harding, starting when Williams tied the game at 1-1 at the 33:34 mark.
Her goal followed Nites’ free kick from 35 yards away that sailed near the net, where the ball first found Olivia Nicholas, who got the assist.
Perez put Howland on top for good at the 30:04 mark after a long pass was brought under control, then passed in front of the goal and softly kicked in with Nites getting the assist.
“We know this tournament run could end at any time,” Hovance said. “We’re moving to the new district in Kent and we’re playing some teams right off the bat that are some of the best in the state,” he said of Saturday’s sectional championship against Brecksville-Broadview Heights.
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve always played [sectional tournament games] in the Youngstown district. But, because the state switched from two divisions to three divisions, the Trumbull County teams got moved to Kent,” added Hovance. “That means more traveling and very, very good teams. They’re all going to be very difficult to beat. We’ve seen them play, but there’s a big difference seeing them and playing against them.
“We have to step up on Saturday and take our play to the next level.”
Nicholas has 16 goals and 10 assists for the season, while Nites has 16 assists, many as the corner kicker as she did on Boyd’s goal at 9:46.
“We’ve had a really good year scoring only because our schedule hasn’t been as hard as in the past,” Hovance said of Howland averaging 3-4 goals per game, while allowing only 6 or 7 total.
“That goal from Harding was one of the few we’ve given up.”
Howland’s tie was against Canfield early in the season.
“They played us really hard, as they always do. It’s been a nice long run and I know our girls are going to come to play hard on Saturday.”
Harding coach Diane Hernandez said that Callow’s opening score was a shocker.
“We jumped on them, but I wish we could have kept up that momentum,” she said. “We’ve had a disappointing season, but we’re much better than our record indicates.”
Harding’s only two starting seniors were goalie Kayla Kereluik and defender Sammy Arthur, a four-year letterwinner who was injured early in the second half after disrupting Howland advances many times.
Harding’s wins were over Girard, Newton Falls and Maplewood and Lorain and Euclid in the Lake Erie League.