July 24, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Brittany Fullbright leads Grizzlies to first district soccer crown

By Dan Brown

COPLEY — Sometimes it takes a little luck and sometimes it takes skill.

Wadsworth’s Brittany Fullbright experienced a bit of both Saturday afternoon, scoring a pair of goals to lead the Grizzlies to a 2-1 win over Wooster in the Brunswick Division I District championship at InfoCision Field at Copley Stadium.

Wadsworth’s girls soccer team celebrates after winning the Brunswick Division I District on Saturday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY AARON JOSEFCZYK)

It was Wadsworth’s first district title in girls soccer.

“We’ve come so far and as a team we didn’t want this to be our last game,” Fullbright said. “There aren’t any words to describe this. It’s the best feeling anyone could have right now.”

The Grizzlies (15-2) let their game do the talking, highlighted by midfielder Fullbright’s goals and a stifling second-half defense.

Those two things helped Wadsworth secure a Rocky River Regional semifinal berth with Avon on Wednesday. The Eagles beat Westlake 1-0.

“I didn’t actually just think we would be here, I believed we could be here,” first-year Grizzlies coach Paul Williford said. “It definitely took a lot of hard work to be able to do that, but making it here didn’t surprise me. It wasn’t pretty at times today, but we definitely scrapped it out.”

Fullbright helped Wadsworth get on the board first. Less than two minutes in, she had a corner kick attempt take a couple of bounces in the box before finding the back of the net, leaving the crowd wondering how the ball was able to cross the end line.

“I don’t know if it hit off of our players or might’ve hit off their player,” Fullbright said. “I think it just kind of ended up in the back of the net.”

The game-winner in the second half was a bit more conventional, as she took a pass from Sarah Berger and blasted it past goalkeeper Staci Hackett (6 saves) with 6:05 remaining.

“Sarah from the weakside gave a great ball in and I just ended up being right there on the near post and hit it into the upper 90,” said Fullbright, who has nine goals on the season.

The Grizzlies dominated the majority of the game, outshooting the Generals (14-4-2) 9-2 and using pressure to create nine corner kicks.

Wooster’s lone sign of offense came with 12:25 left in the first half, when Ellie Rickett took a ball off the foot of Jennifer Philippon on a breakaway and booted it in.

From then on, Wadsworth’s backline of Grace Campbell, Jessie Gearhart, Berger and Allison Hagans locked down the Generals, limiting them to just six shots, none of which were on goal.

“We got a little disorganized in the middle and that’s how they scored,” Campbell said. “But our goal this season was to beat the record for least goals against and right now, we have beaten it by one.
“We just kept it tight. That’s all we have to do and stay organized. We did a great job.”

The four defenders, along with keeper Kailie Reed (1 save), have surrendered just 10 goals all season and have been key in Wadsworth’s record-breaking run.

“I can’t say enough about those four,” Williford said of the backline. “Without them, we’re not where we’re at today, definitely. I think the goals would still come on the other end of the field, but without them in the back, we’re definitely not here at this time of year.

“They’ve covered for each other all year. You couldn’t ask for more from four defenders.”

That hard work is paying off.

“Oh, my God, it’s so exciting,” Campbell said. “I mean, we busted our butt the entire 80 minutes and it just paid off. It’s so much fun. I couldn’t be prouder of my team. We played great.”

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.

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