Four area teams could make state tourney
By Charles Grove
Today opens up regional play for girls soccer and four area teams are hoping to collect two more wins to lock up a trip to state.
In Division II, Howland plays Hathaway Brown School at Twinsburg High School and Beaver Local plays Tri Valley at Dover Middle School.
In Dvision III, Champion plays Mapleton at Brecksville Broadview Heights and Cardinal Mooney plays Gilmour Academy at Solon High School. All games kickoff at 7 p.m.
Champion is looking to win their first regional game in school history and if that happens they could play Mooney in the next round with a spot in Columbus on the line.
The Golden Flashes haven’t been lighting up the scoreboard in the postseason but head coach Shawnn Wilson believes his team’s versatility is what’s been key to success.
“With this group we started early with them training them how to change and adapt,” Wilson said. “We play multiple formations and more people around multiple positions. We’ll make our changes quickly after the first five minutes and the girls are able to adapt on the fly.”
The recipe has worked so far this postseason as the Golden Flashes have won close matches. After a 2-0 sectional final win over Bristol, Champion earned a 1-0 win in overtime over LaBrae and advanced to regionals with a penalty shootout win over Rootstown.
“We focus on defense because we know the goals will come,” Wilson said. “Even though we haven’t scored that many goals we have generated a lot more opportunities.
“We’re not looking to blowout teams. We’re looking to keep the game 1-0 or 0-0 and let the offense do the rest.”
Mooney has been mainly the opposite this postseason. In two sectional games the Cardinals outscored their opponents 29-1 and defeated St. Thomas Aquinas 8-0 in a district semifinal. The only time Mooney has been stressed is during their 2-1 overtime win over Ursuline for the district title.
For Mooney head coach Frank Sikich, those two goals allowed so far speak louder than the 39 they’ve scored.
“Everything starts with our back line,” Sikich said. “We’re very solid at the back and we play up from there. Everything seems to play through Elizabeth Philibin, who’s our real orchestral leader. She’s able to dictate the tempo and go forward but it all starts with the back line.”
After the district stage, many teams are forced into some unfamiliar matchups that can be difficult to gameplan for, but Mooney has played Gilmour Academy already this year, losing 6-2.
“We’re very fortunate in that sense that we have an idea of their style,” Sikich said. “But we’ve both changed since that point in the season.”
For Howland, defense has been the name of the game this postseason as well. The Tigers have advanced to regionals by defeating West Branch 3-1 in a sectional final before defeating Niles 2-0 and Lakeview 3-0 to win their district.
“Our defense has always been good,” Howland head coach Joe Megyesi said. “We typically put everyone back. Offense will win you games but defense will win you a tournament.”
Much like Wilson, Megyesi adapts on the fly during games as well. Megyesi attempts to do as much research on paper with unfamiliar opponents during tournament play, but once he sees how a team is trying to attack, he’s able to fill those holes quickly.
“The past four or five games it’s never been the same lineup,” Megyesi said. “We always move somone around and see how it fits. We work really well together because we have girls who can work different positions. The first 15-20 minutes is when we adjust based on what kind of speed they have and that’s just part of the game.”