ELYRIA — So you’re a high school soccer coach. Your team is on the verge of a Guinness Book record blowout, but you don’t want to run up the score.
Kind of awkward, actually.
You can’t really tell your players not to score if they get the chance. But you can tell them to work on their possession game. That would serve two worthwhile purposes: holding down the score and improving their ability to possess the ball.
It happened at Knights of Columbus Field Wednesday night, where top-seeded Elyria Catholic’s girls defeated Columbia, 8-0, in a Division III sectional final. The win earned EC (11-3-3) a spot in a district semifinal match on Monday against tonight’s Lutheran West-Oberlin winner. The time and site are to be determined.
The Panthers led Columbia (4-11-2), 5-0 at the break after scoring in the third, fifth, ninth, 11th and 22nd minutes. And, when the match ended, they had the first hat trick of junior Andi Widmer’s career. She now has five goals for the season.
They also got to send virtually everyone on the roster into action and spend significant time working on their possession skills. Even though the match was one-sided, the Panthers learned some thing, Widmer said.
“I think we learned tonight that we need to control the ball,” she said. “We need to control the ball, look to make plays, rather than just playing kick ball. We have to possess.”
EC coach Tony Rozanc was on the same page.
“We worked on possession tonight and we worked on things all week to prepare us down the road offensively,” he said. “We’ve struggled to score all year long, so we worked on a lot of things to see if we could change that. I think they did well. Columbia did a great job. (Coach Amanda Bailey) is building a program there and it takes time. I think eventually she’ll get it turned around.”
EC put shots on goal in each of the first two minutes and scored the eventual winner off Widmer’s foot in the third minute. Two minutes later, Widmer scored again, and it became a 3-0 Panthers lead when junior Anna Griffin kicked one home in the ninth minute.
It was an insurmountable 5-0 Elyria Catholic halftime lead after sophomore Meliah Roman scored a breakaway goal in the 11th minute and senior Tricia Gaunter raced down the left flank and scored 11 minutes later.
Junior Kirsten Fehlan scored four minutes into the second half, Widmer nailed her hat trick less than a minute later, and senior tri-captain Danielle Dziak added the icing with her goal in the 76th minute.
The Panthers’ typically strong defense allowed Columbia one shot, and it was not on goal. It went wide to the left side of the EC net late in the first half. Purists might argue it wasn’t a shot at all, but rather an errant pass trying to find a receiver deep in the EC end.
Whatever. Katie Gauntner, the Panthers’ senior goalkeeper, didn’t have to make a single save and, with a pillow and blanket, could have curled up for a cat nap between the posts.
“I try to pay attention,” Gauntner said of her role in lopsided matches, “and I try to stay warm when it’s this could out, too. I’m pretty much just a supporter on the field for my team.”
It was something of a homecoming for Bailey, the Raiders coach, who formerly served as an assistant to Rozanc at EC. She said she liked that her players continued to play hard throughout and that, with only four seniors on the roster, she is optimistic about the future.
“We’re looking forward to developing all these girls, because it’s a first year for a lot of them playing soccer,” Bailey said. “They fight hard and they give it all they’ve got, even in a situation like they were in tonight.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or soccer@bobdaniels. info.
Elyria Catholic 8, Columbia 0
GOALS: (EC) Andi Widmer (3rd, 5th, 44th minutes), Anna Griffin (9th), Meliah Roman (11th), Tricia Gauntner (22nd), Kirsten Fehlan (44th), Danielle Dziak (76th).
SAVES: (C) Jordan Paine 6; (EC) Katie Gauntner 0.
SHOTS: Columbia 1; Elyria Catholic 25.
SHOTS ON GOAL: Columbia 0; Elyria Catholic 14.
CORNER KICKS: Columbia 1; Elyria Catholic 13.
GOAL KICKS: Columbia 9.
OFFSIDE: Elyria Catholic 2..
HANDBALLS: Elyria Catholic 3.
FOULS: Columbia 1; Elyria Catholic 4.
HALF: Elyria Catholic, 5-0.