After 78 minutes of play in Tuesday’s Ohio Capital Conference girls soccer match, Lancaster (5-9-1) held a 1-0 lead over visiting Newark (2-10-3). The Gales couldn’t hold on and allowed a Wildcat goal with just 1:09 left in the game to settle for the tie in their final home game.
Coach Brian Griffin knew this one would hurt.
“We had our opportunities, and we didn’t capitalize,” he said. “All it took was one from them, and they tied it up, (and) to be on senior night, I’ll be doing some consoling.”
Shannon Loftus notched the final goal for Newark to secure the tie. The Wildcats avoided losing for the first time in OCC play this year.
“After a season where we had several opportunities to win some games, there were some that we dropped in the last two minutes so this was kid of nice when you play a friendly rival like Lancaster and at least to be able to tie them,” Coach Vance Bennett said.
After Newark failed to capitalize on a free kick from the right of the goal with two minutes remaining, it looked as though the Gales would be able to run out the clock and secure a victory. A long touch by Lancaster led to a through ball by Newark, which after some back-and-forth play found it’s way to Loftus in the box. With one touch, the captain found the back of the net.
Controlling the ball was a problem for the Gales all night Lancaster coach Griffin said.
“Our first touch, it seemed like we kept giving it back to Newark,” he said. “It just didn’t seem to work tonight.”
With temperatures in the 40s throughout the game, both teams fell into sloppy play in the first half.
“They got a talking to at half-time for their play,” Griffin said. “I’m not going to attribute it to field conditions or temperature. They aren’t used to playing in this weather, but when push comes to shove you’ve got to perform.”
The uneven play led to few scoring chances early. On Newark’s first true opportunity on the evening, junior Rachel Billman fired on the goal but Gales’ goalkeeper Brittany Wolfe made a save diving to her right, one of three saves on the evening.
Though the Wildcats failed to convert their opportunity in the first half, Lancaster capitalized on one that they did have.
With just over two minutes left in the first half, freshman Madyson Wills received the ball in the box from Abby Karns. Turning and firing, she was able to find the corner of the goal.
“She’s kind of notorious for that,” Griffin said. “She’s done that a couple of times this year. She saw the 18 (yard box) and let it fly. She caught the corner of the net, which is very fortunate for us.”
The OCC battle saw physical play from both teams. On Lancaster’s senior night, Bennett was happy that his team got some success against the Gales.
“That’s important for the seniors,” he said. “They haven’t had a lot of success against Lancaster, so at least getting out with a tie was nice for them.”