April 18, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
42°F

Girls soccer: Grizzlies take control after lightning delay

Karen Kase | The Gazette

WADSWORTH — Lightning, of all things, played a key role in Wadsworth’s 3-1 non-league victory over Wooster on Saturday.

First, the Grizzlies (10-3-1) scored a lightning-quick goal just 32 seconds into the match.

Shortly thereafter, the Generals tied the game on a free kick that was thunderstruck from 30 yards. The ball rattled in off the post just beyond the reach of goalkeeper Hannah Centea (3 saves).

Then, the referee halted the game due to inclement weather and lightning. Both teams retreated to the locker rooms with 17:21 remaining in the half.

Grizzlies coach Paul Williford turned the 30-minute delay into an opportunity to deliver a message to his players.

“Wake up,” Williford said. “We needed to put something on the board in case of a cancellation. We didn’t want to be in a situation where it would be tied because of the weather. I told them we needed to come back out aggressive and with pressure.

“I was happy with the effort. All things considered, I thought we did OK. I think the play could’ve been a little better, so I let the girls know we needed to be very resilient. It’s tough to deal with a delay. You start losing your rhythm, but we had to deal with the situation.”

When the game resumed, Wadsworth responded with better possession, composure and making runs from the outside.

With 15:48 left in the half, senior midfielder Brooke Braman played a ball through to senior forward Leah Runkle, who fired it into the back of the net to put the Grizzlies ahead 2-1.

It marked Runkle’s 16th goal of the season, which ranks at the top of the Medina County leaderboard.

“Once the rain delay happened, our coach said, ‘If you are not focused when we go back out there, you are coming off,”’ Runkle said. “We needed to score because we wanted to not have a tie as the final score (if the game was called). My mentality was that I needed to score or someone needed to score. As long as we are winning, it doesn’t matter to me who gets the goal.”

“Our outsides do really well with coming forward,” Braman added. “By making those great runs or diagonals, they make it easier for me, especially if I am under pressure, to see them and play a straight ball or throughball. We needed to win this game to put us back on track. We can all still play a little bit better. We knew we had to come right back out and pick it up.”

Sarah Berger added an insurance goal with 8:57 left in game. The senior defender, who advanced forward from the backline many times, booted in a direct kick from just inside the 20-yard line.

“Sarah is on fire right now,” Williford said. “She is definitely one of the best attacking defenders in our league. She is just so good defensively, then turns around and sparks our offense in one pass. It’s huge for us to have her out there.”

Senior Erica Hantzche capitalized on getting the start at forward to score the game’s initial goal just after kick off. She received a cross from Helena Carlson and placed it past Wooster keeper Mariah Wudarzewski (7 saves).

Contac Karen Kase at sports@medina-gazette.com.