By HO HOFFMAN
Special to the Gazette
GRANGER TWP. â€” Highlandâ€™s Kirsten Gillespieâ€™s first-half goal not only gave her team a 1-0 Suburban League soccer win over visiting Wadsworth, but it also made school history.
For the first time both the Highland girls (5-4-4, 2-3-0) and boys teams beat Wadsworth (8-2-1) in the same year. Tuesday night the boys took a 2-0 decision Wednesday it was the girls turn.
â€œThis is a huge win for us,â€ Gillespie said. â€˜Weâ€™ve been so close in our losses this year and this win over a great team like Wadsworth should give us a lot of respect in the Suburban League.â€
Gillespieâ€™s goal at the 18:42 mark was her first of the year. She got her chance for stardom due to injury.
After a collision in front of Wadsworthâ€™s goal between Grizzliesâ€™ net minder Victoria Bathrick and Highlandâ€™s Ehbar, Bathrick was called for an infraction and Ehbar was awarded a penalty shot.
However, Ehbar wasnâ€™t able to take the shot because she had to be helped off the field.
The junior midfielder fired the shot at Bathrick, who stopped the shot but the rebound came back to Gillespie.
â€œI saw the rebound come right back to me and I wanted to shoot it before anybody had a chance to clear it,â€ Gillespie said. â€œI kept my head down and blasted it home. It was the biggest goal I ever scored.â€
It was the only goal of the game as opportunities and shots were at a minimum. The Hornets had five shots â€” all by Gillespie â€” while the Grizzlies also tallied five: four from Morgan Burgner and one from Jessie Gearhart.
â€œOur defense was tremendous tonight,â€ Hornets coach Jason Rutkowski said. â€œI canâ€™t say enough about the defensive play of Erin Naumann, Stephanie Guzik and, of course, our goalie Anna Wiley.
â€œWe did a lot of switching defenses tonight to try and keep Wadsworth out of sync. We played individual marking (Audrey Owens shadowing Wadsworthâ€™s Jackie Lowdermilk), three and four back, packing everybody back and then playing a quick attacking game. We mixed them up constantly and our girls played them all perfectly.â€
A problem for Wadsworth was playing its second game without Sam Gearhart, who broke her elbow Saturday night against Akron Firestone.
â€œWe missed Sam, no doubt about it,â€ said Wadsworth assistant coach Matt Doslak, who took over after both head coach Ron Mendel and assistant Joe Mendel were ejected after red cards. â€œMaybe not so much her scoring but her killer instinct and leadership. We werenâ€™t into it as much as Highland.
â€œYou can see how much Highland wanted it. Here we are 20 minutes after the game and they are still on the field celebrating.â€
The complaints to the officials which caused the expulsion of the Mendelâ€™s was a safety issue. The Wadsworth staff felt the officials were not taking care of the safety of the players on both teams and were letting the game become too physical. As a point of interest, there were 40 fouls called.
After no changes were made in the officialsâ€™ approach, the Mendels became more vocal in their concern. In turn, the officials red carded both and sent them to the bus.
â€œIt was pretty physical out there and there were a lot of non-calls and a few of the girls on both teams were being knocked down with no calls,â€ Rutkowski said. â€œIt is a shame the officiating â€” or lack of â€”has to take away from the story of the game.â€
Hoffman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org