ELYRIA — Elyria High, not known as an area girls soccer juggernaut, showed up ready to play at Knights of Columbus Field on Saturday, coming away with a 2-2 tie against the unbeaten Elyria Catholic Panthers in the 16th Elyria Cup match between the crosstown rivals.
The Pioneers scored in the first four minutes and took a 2-1 lead in the second half, thanks to sophomore Abbey Ramirez’s goal.
But with freshman Meliah Roman scoring in the 75th minute, the Panthers were able to stay undefeated at 3-0-2 and keep the Elyria Cup for another year.
The Pioneers fell to 1-2-3.
It was a cancer awareness match in which the visiting Pioneers wore pink jerseys and the Panthers wore home white with pink numbers and letters. The shirts were provided by Mercy Health Care.
A highlight was a halftime ceremony in which EC retired the number of all-time scoring leader Erika Kleinholz Fielder, a 2003 graduate. Kleinholz went on to star at Michigan and play professionally, and is now the girls coach at North Olmsted. She was joined by Andy Marsh, who coached her at EC and who founded the school’s girls soccer program. Hers is the first soccer number — boys or girls — the school has retired.
With the match in its final five-plus minutes, it began to look as though the Pioneers would hang on for their third victory in the one-sided rivalry the Panthers now lead 12-2-2. But Roman saved the day with an assist from sophomore Jenna Ellingson.
“I forget who it was (Ellingson), but she was crossing the ball,” Roman said, describing her fourth varsity goal. “The keeper was in the goal, but the ball bounced off another one of their players. That left me with the whole left side open.”
Roman took advantage, which created a disappointing end for Elyria coach Venera Ilievski, who had the Pioneers well prepared.
“We have a good squad,” she said. “The girls are ready all the time. This is a very good group of girls. I think for the past couple years and for the next few years we’re going to have a very talented group of players who are going to play very hard for us. They do it because they really care and want to.”
But even the tie couldn’t detract from Ramirez’s delight at having scored the go-ahead goal with a left-footed shot — and an assist by senior Celeste Jones in the 53rd minute.
“I saw the open shot and I usually chip it upper 90 when I can,” she said. “Right when I saw it go up, I knew it was in right where I hit it and it was the best feeling of my life. That was my sixth goal of the season.”
Panthers coach Tony Rozanc liked the way his Panthers fought back, but said they hadn’t played their best. He also praised the Pioneers’ effort.
“It wasn’t our best day,” he said, “but Elyria came ready to play. We had a hard time keeping the ball inbounds, so it was not a good day for us. It was a good day for Elyria.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria 2, Elyria Catholic 2
• GOALS: (E) Natalie Benko (4th minute), Abbey Ramirez (53rd minute). (EC) Lauren Wisnor (30th minute), Meliah Roman (75th minute).
• ASSISTS: (E) Celeste Jones 2; (EC) Sara Pallendino.
• SHOTS: Elyria 5, Elyria Catholic 10.
• SHOTS ON FRAME: Elyria 3, Elyria Catholic 4.
• SAVES: (E) Jami Wright 3; (EC) Katie Gauntner 2.
• GOAL KICKS: Elyria 11, Elyria Catholic 2.
• CORNER KICKS: Elyria 4, Elyria Catholic 3.
• HANDBALLS: Elyria 1, Elyria Catholic 1.
• FOULS: Elyria 2, Elyria Catholic 4.
• HALF: 1-1.