July 25, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Girls soccer: Yellow Jackets leave no doubt despite Bees ‘D’

SANDUSKY — As his Medina girls soccer team stretched in preparation for its Division I regional championship Saturday, coach Doug Coreno took out a ball and drilled it toward the wide-open goal.

It hit the crossbar, marking the closest the Bees program came to finding the back of the net.

Medina's Nicole Bennett heads the ball against Perrysburg's Andrea Wertz. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JUDD SMERGLIA)

Undefeated Perrysburg played every bit like the second-ranked team in the country and dominated in a 2-0 victory at historic Strobel Field.

The Yellow Jackets (21-0) advance to the state semifinals for the first time in school history — they will battle nationally ranked Strongsville on Tuesday — while the Bees ended the season 13-6-2.

“We felt like we had a chance to win, and if we played them tomorrow, I’d still feel like we have a chance to win,” Coreno said. “I was impressed our kids didn’t get caught up in (Perrysburg’s) 20-0 (record) the No. 1-in-the-state (ranking). They came out and it was business as usual.

“Hat’s off to Perrysburg. They earned the win.”

Despite Purdue recruit Maddy Williams not scoring for the first time this season — outstanding man-to-man defense by Holly Rhodes had a lot to do with that — Perrysburg remained in complete control as Medina couldn’t muster much of anything that resembled offense.

The Yellow Jackets outshot the Bees 19-2 on goal, and would have made the final score much, much worse if not for a pair of goal-line stops over a 4-minute span by Medina defender Marisa Scullin.

Meanwhile, the Bees, who often committed unforced errors that led to Perrysburg counterattacks, were held without a shot on goal for the first 73:43 of the game.

“Obviously, we feel like we’re one of the top programs in the state, so we’re never satisfied with moral victories,” Coreno said. “But, obviously, we were the underdog coming into this game.”

By obliterating Medina in the midfield, the Panthers held possession for most of the first half and saw forwards Williams, Allex Brown and Lucy Walton each fire just wide on multiple occasions.

Though the Bees’ defense was playing very well considering the situation — many of Perrysburg’s shots were relatively easy saves for Jordan Reynolds (15 saves) — its communication finally broke down early in the second half, when Mollie Whitacre punched a long yet perfectly placed throughball to Brown.

There wasn’t much Reynolds could do, as Brown sprinted past multiple defenders down the far sideline and uncorked a rocket into the far corner.

“Our wing was out of position, which led to our center-midfielder losing the ball, which led to our backline getting pulled out of position,” Coreno said. “It led to a good finish. It wasn’t one individual mistake. It was a chain reaction of little things we didn’t do on that one play. Little mistakes get punished in a game of this magnitude.”

Nearly 30 minutes passed before Medina had its best opportunity to find the equalizer.

With a little more than 6 minutes left, Bees forward Nicole Bennett found a sliver of room just past midfield and frantically dribbled towards the net with defender Andrea Wartz nipping at her heels.

Wartz’s hustle didn’t appear to be enough to stop Bennett, but goalie Chloe Buehler charged with precision, allowing Wartz to catch up.

All Bennett could do was dribble right into Buehler’s arms.

“It was just a good play (by Perrysburg) all the way around,” Coreno said.

Bennett had a 25-yarder just miss less than 2 minutes later to mark Medina’s last chance before Williams found Walton in the box for an easy goal with 30 seconds left.

“Going into the game, we were just planning on working hard and giving everything we’ve got,” Scullin said. “I think right until the end we worked as hard as we could. We didn’t give up at all.”

That fact wasn’t lost on Coreno. Medina’s very young starting lineup — the only healthy senior was Scullin — matured by leaps and bounds following an early-season suspensions and tough losses against arguably the hardest schedule in Ohio.

Even better, the Bees return 21 of the 22 players who dressed Saturday.

“These kids really grew up this year,” Coreno said. “Hopefully, that sets the stage for a phenomenal next two years.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.