ROCKY RIVER — Avon’s girls soccer team left the field Wednesday a 2-1 loser to Wadsworth in a Division I regional semifinal in Rocky River.
But what the Eagles (9-6-5) have done this season can hardly be termed a failure.
Making their second trip to the regional tournament in the last five seasons, the Eagles withstood a six-game winless streak and overcame numerous injuries.
The squad knocked off Westlake — a team it had lost 4-0 to two weeks earlier — 1-0 to win the Rocky River district championship.
It found the winning combination in Megan Garner (14 goals) and Holly Ohradzansky (5 goals, 15 assists), and finished the season with a four-game winning streak before bowing out to Wadsworth (16-2).
“You can’t be anything but very proud of each and every one of these girls for doing what they did for this program,” Eagles coach Tony Dimacchia said. “They gained a lot of respect from me and a lot of people watching girls high school soccer.”
Even in defeat, Avon earned admiration from the Grizzlies.
Trailing 1-0 midway through the first half, the Eagles could have been deflated after Garner missed a penalty kick. But Ohradzansky took a corner kick after the penalty kick and found Sydney Simpson, who knotted things up.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Leah Runkle (32 goals this season) was a step faster than the Avon defense. Having been stuffed by Avon goalkeeper Holly Kraus on a one-on-one earlier, Runkle bided her time and popped one over the senior keeper for what proved to be the game-winner on a through ball from Brittany Fullbright at the 50.
“They rebounded well, fought and equaled it up and did everything they needed to in the first half,” Dimacchia said. “I thought we dominated the first half and controlled the pace of the game.
“I knew (Wadsworth) was getting a little impatient and were resorting to a little bit of long ball to send (Runkle) so she could use her speed. I told them to watch that. We couldn’t allow ourselves to lose that spacing. But they popped it through and that’s all they needed.”
While Avon loses starters Kraus, Simpson, Ohradzansky, Garner, Natalie Wilden, and Hannah Winger, the Eagles will hardly be green next season.
Macy Slunski, Rachael Bishop, Nicole Chabot, Allison Clark and Emilie Wetzig all return as starters with a wealth of playoff appearances. There’s no doubt they’ll be ready to write the next chapter of what’s turning into storied soccer program.
“This is a great experience for all the younger players in the program,” Dimacchia said. “I think next year — obviously we’re losing a lot of great players and a lot of starters — but we’ll work that much harder and build off this.
“This will make the younger kids stronger and build a little tougher character. Now they have the experience of being in a regional game and winning a district championship. It’s kind of like getting a taste of something and you just want more of it. Hopefully, they feed on that and we can continue to build and get stronger from this great experience.”
Contact Brad Bournival at 329-7135 or email@example.com.