Blue Aces look to raise their game in state semifinals

Blue Aces look to raise their game in state semifinals

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Blue Aces look to raise their game in state semifinals

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GRANVILLE

Despite notching a 3-0 win for its first Division II regional championship, Granville was not satisfied with its performance.

If the Blue Aces (18-2-1) want to win a state championship, they know must raise their game against Kettering Alter (16-5) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the state semifinals at Hilliard Bradley High School.

In the regional finals at Centerville High School, Granville was scoreless at halftime before finally putting it together during the final 40 minutes. The Blue Aces probably won’t have that luxury against the Knights, who knocked off previously unbeaten Hamilton Ross, 1-0, in their regional final. Ross was ranked fourth in the final state coaches poll.

“I think we can make that leap,” senior defender Kina McCombs said. “I have confidence in us. I think we can do it. This is our year.”

“I think the girls will go in with a different mentality in this game,” Granville coach Scott Forster said. “I don’t know if it was overconfidence or what in the last game, but they didn’t play with the same intensity and urgency we normally have.

“If we play that way in the back again, we could really be hurting.”

Granville, No. 3 in the final coaches poll, will face an Alter team that played a rugged schedule. Two of the Knights’ losses came against D-III state semifinalists Middletown Fenwick and Hamilton Badin, and they also lost to D-I Centerville and Akron Hoban, the No. 2 team in D-II. Alter avenged its other loss in the regional semifinals at Centerville against Cincinnati McNicholas.

The regional final win against Hamilton Ross went scoreless until the 60th minute, when senior forward Avalee Hagerty took a long throughball on a counter attack, collected it inside the penalty box, and fired it into the lower, right corner for the game-winner.

Hagerty leads well-balanced Alter with 22 goals and five assists. Katie Grunder, who assisted on the winning goal Saturday, has 13 goals and 15 assists.

Granville sophomore Nikki Cox is averaging a hat trick for the tournament, scoring nine goals in the Blue Aces’ past three wins to push her school record to 49 for the season.

“To be honest, I really don’t know much about them,” Forster said. “I anticipate a one-goal game. It will come down to execution. We’ll still get some opportunities. It’s just a matter of finishing them.”

The winner will meet the survivor of top-ranked Rocky River (20-0-1) and Hathaway Brown (15-3-3) at 3:30 p.m. Friday in Columbus Crew Stadium for the state championship.

“We were fortunate enough to play Columbus Academy in Crew Stadium last year during the regular season,” Forster said. “I think everyone on the roster except our freshmen were there. It would be great to be back there in this situation.”

dweidig@newarkadvocate.com

740-328-8557

Twitter: @noz75

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