WELLINGTON — It was likely a preview of the Division III district tournament at Rocky River next month, except that postseason matches can’t end in ties.
In a tense, action-packed non-conference match, the Elyria Catholic and Wellington girls battled to a 1-1 tie in non-conference play Monday afternoon. They played in a continuous downpour which at times reached — to use the colloquial — “frog-strangler” intensity.
Before a hardy and surprisingly large crowd, the Dukes remained undefeated at 7-0-1 and the Panthers stayed once-beaten at 6-1-2. In a nutshell, EC won the first half and Wellington the second half.
For the longest time, it looked as though an uncommon and electrifying goal less than a minute into the match might hold up for the Panthers. It happened when freshman midfielder Keely Birsic nailed the restart after a Wellington foul 50 seconds into the action.
She connected into the upper-left corner from perhaps 35 yards.
“Well, I actually didn’t think it went in, but I’m happy that it did,” Birsic said. “I was surprised, because I think I was about 20 yards in front of the half (midfield stripe). I was excited and happy.”
But the lead didn’t hold up, although it lasted for more than 67 minutes.
Senior Jacoby Ziegler, the Dukes’ leading scorer, finally ended the drought when she scored from close range in the 68th minute with an assist by Katie Rosemark.
“It was everybody’s effort trying to get the ball in,” Ziegler said. “I was just happy to be the one in the open space. Katie Rosemark (passed) it. It kind of bounced around and nobody was in front of me.”
No surprise, the match turned out as the coaches thought it might.
“This was a totally expected game,” EC coach Tony Rozanc said. “Wellington is a very good team. I thought we outplayed them in the first half, then the rain really started coming down and every ball was going their way. I knew it was just a matter of time. I’m not disappointed in our team. I thought we played well. It’s definitely something to build on.”
“I thought it was a good game between two good teams that might end up seeing each other again,” said Kevin Ziegler, the Dukes’ veteran coach. “We probably didn’t play as well as we could have in the first half, but we came out hard in the second half.
“I asked our keeper (freshman Kayla Sparks) what happened on the (EC) goal and she said, ‘I was setting the wall up and when I stepped back the ball was in the air and I never saw it.’”
Sparks got the starting assignment because the usual starter, senior Hannah Huelsman, is sidelined with an ankle sprain. She is expected to return by week’s end, Kevin Ziegler said.
In the end, the Dukes won the statistics game. They outshot the Panthers 18-9 and put more shots on target (11-6). They also earned more corner kicks, 6-2, with all six coming in the second half.
Elyria Catholic 1, Wellington 1
GOALS: (EC) Keely Birsic (1st). (W) Jacoby Ziegler (68th).
ASSISTS: (W) Katie Rosemark.
SHOTS: Elyria Catholic 9, Wellington 18.
SHOTS ON TARGET: Elyria Catholic 6, Wellington 11.
SAVES: (EC) Marisa Ternes 10; (W) Kayla Sparks 5.
CORNER KICKS: Elyria Catholic 2; Wellington 6.
GOAL KICKS: Elyria Catholic 5, Wellington 7.
OFFSIDE: Wellington 1.
HANDBALLS: Elyria Catholic 1, Wellington 1.
FOULS: Elyria Catholic 5, Wellington 7.
YELLOW CARDS: (EC) Jenna Ellingson (59th).
HALFTIME: Elyria Catholic, 1-0.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.