John Erardi reports:
Crossbars and posts can be a goalie’s best friend. If not for those, the Mason Comets appeared primed to win the Ohio State Girls Division I State Soccer Championship here Friday night.
Instead, they lost to Perrysburg 1-0, in the wildest, craziest, keep-coming-at-you state championship soccer game Columbus has seen in a long while.
“Only nine saves?” somebody in the press box asked afterward. “It seems like she made nine hundred.”
The reference was to Penn State-bound senior goalie Chloe Buehler, who had her hands full –literally.
What she couldn’t pick off, the posts and crossbars did.
There were two such occurrences in the first half, two more in the second.
“They (the Comets) had two or three opportunities that I thought for sure were going to end up in the net,” said Perrysburg coach Jorge Diaz, whose team finished 23-0-0, ranked first in the state and second nationally. “A hand here, a crossbar there. Luck was with us.”
Diaz singled out Mason’s “Number 8″ and “Number 15,” as being particularly hard to stop, and said nobody came at his team all year the way Mason did.
“Overall, they had a tougher bracket to get here than we did, although the last couple of games – Strongsville and Medina – were tough for us,” Diaz said.
No. 8, that would be Jami Pfeifer, a senior forward.
“Give her an inch, and she’s going to take it all the way through,” Diaz said.
No. 15, that would be Jill Vetere, a sophomore forward.
“I had somebody on her the second half, but the coach was moving her from one side to the other, attacking,” Diaz said.
The Mason girls knew they were going to have their hands (and feet and heads and minds) full with Perrysburg’s Maddy Williams.
And, did they ever.
To their credit, they largely negated her except for the successful first-half penalty kick with 15 minutes to go in the first half that was the difference.
Who can blame the Comets for having fouled her? At the time, she was engaged in a whirling dervish extravaganza in front of the goal, in which the Comets did everything to dislodge the ball from her. Finally, wham!.
The feeling one had was at that very instant was that Williams was going to score unless somebody fouled her.
“My attitude is you have to finish your chances, because you never know if that might be the only one you get,” Williams said.
And so, they fouled her, and she scored, anyway.
It was her 48th goal of the season.
“I liked her attitude inside the 18,” Mason coach Andy Schur said. “She was so persistent. You maybe could knock her off the ball, but she was right back on top of you. And with her back to the goal, really tough to defend.”
Williams, too, agreed, that it was the Yellow Jackets night.
“We had luck on our side,” she said. “They (the Comets) have a really well-organized back line. They play great together. They’re physical, but not to the point it gets out of control.”
Other than that one goal Friday night, these were two very evenly matched teams at Crew Stadium. Mason was more the aggressor: 26 shots to Perrysburg’s 6; 9 shot to 5 on goal, respectively.
“The best team we’ve played,” Perrysburg’s Diaz said.
Mason beat three of the top 11 teams in the state to reach the state final, and finished 20-2-1.