Lake girls win district soccer title
MILLBURY – For the second time in three years the Lake girls soccer team has advanced to the Division II regional semifinals.
The Flyers blanked Oak Harbor 3-0 Saturday afternoon at Lake Community Stadium to advance.
“It’s really special,” Lake senior tri-captain Kayla Saffran said about reaching the regionals. “Our season didn’t really go the way we had we wanted it to, but coming into the tournament we were ready for it.
“This game was big for us and it was a really huge win.”
Lake, now 13-2-5 overall, faces the winner of the Clear Fork-Lexington game on Tuesday at Findlay High School. Oak Harbor finishes its season at 14-1-4.
“I think we are peaking at the right time,” Lake head coach Don Jablonski said. “We had probably our best game of the season on Tuesday against Wauseon (an 8-0 win) and we are still living off that.
“Everything is just starting to click right now.”
Lake and Oak Harbor played to a 1-1 tie in the regular season as the Rockets scored late in the game on a goal which started with a long throw in by Noelle Peterson.
The Flyers worked in practice to avoid the possibility of another long throw in by Peterson.
“We talked in practice about not letting any giveaway balls or throwaway balls in the back,” Saffran said. “We either controlled it and got it out of there or we just tried to kick it 20 yards down the field.”
Scoring two goals in the first 29 minutes of the first half was also a huge benefit for the Flyers.
With 10:38 gone in the match, Lake’s Maddy Hodgson crossed a ball from the right side into the box to Angelica Aikman who was running down the middle of the field. Aikman’s shot beat OH goalkeeper Chelsea Rathbun for the score. It was her second goal of the season.
Hodgson increased the lead to 2-0 6:31 later when she beat the defense and Rathbun on a well-played ball, also down the middle of the field. It was Hodgson’s 16th goal of the season.
“With it as windy as it was today we just told the kids to stand over the ball, watch their foot hit the ball and stay down over the top,” Jablonski said. “Those two shots were just what we had talked about.”
The Rockets biggest threat was a well-struck ball from Kyleigh Pluto with just over two minutes remaining in the first half. Lake goalkeeper Emily Lovell made a diving effort to her right to deny Pluto.
Oak Harbor had the possession advantage in the second half, but could not generate any good shots on goal as the Flyers’ defense played well.
“Our backs have been getting better every game this year; they are all juniors,” Jablonski said. “They are beginning to understand what they were taught and learning to play as a team.”
“The defense really made me proud,” Saffran said. “They have done a great job pressuring and stepping to the ball right away and making sure that nothing gets through and shutting them down.”
Kendyl Saffran provided Lake with an insurance goal with 5:28 remaining in the game. The ball went off a Rocket defender and she was able to control it in the middle of the field. Her shot from about 20 yards out found the back of the net for her fourth goal of the season.