Sometimes it’s not the best team that wins but rather the team with the best player that prevails.
On Wednesday night at Gallagher Athletic Complex in Toledo, Maumee’s Alex Wagner scored two goals to lift the Panthers to a 2-1 victory over Oak Harbor in a Division II district semifinal.
With the score tied at 1, Wagner, one of the state’s best players and a Michigan State recruit, stormed down the left side of the field before eluding a defender and connecting on a diagonal shot from about 15 feet out that caught the upper-right portion of the net to send Maumee to the district final. On the play, Rockets goalkeeper Kyle Draper positioned himself properly in front of the net, forcing Wagner to make a difficult shot.
It was the only defeat of the season for Oak Harbor (16-1-1). The loss marks the third consecutive year in which the Rockets have been eliminated from the postseason in overtime.
Wagner’s overtime goal was the first scored in over 40 minutes, the previous one coming from him early in the second half at 38:41 when he was able to slip one by Draper from in close to tie the score at 1.
In the first half, the Panthers (11-5) missed out on several chances to score, both the result of good Rockets defense and the play of Draper. Oak Harbor took advantage as Andy Burnette scored on the team’s only first-half shot off an assist from Connor Eli at the 31:59 mark to open scoring.
Conversely, in the second half, the Rockets failed to convert on a number of opportunities as several shots missed wide or high and Maumee goalkeeper Hunter Thomasson worked to protect the net while the Panthers struggled to get anything going on offense.
“We knew all about Alex (Wagner),” Oak Harbor coach Ken Filar said. “And they got the ball to him and he beat our defenders a few times, but we did a great job for the most part.”
Wednesday marked the final match for Oak Harbor seniors Eli, Tate Haar, Trevor Hanely and David Birchall, a group that was instrumental in rebuilding a program that had fallen on hard times after winning league titles in 2008 and 2010. Haar, who had a school single-season record 28 assists to go with 16 goals, was Sandusky Bay Conference player of the year.
Eli, who scored a goal in Oak Harbor’s 2-0 win over Toledo Central Catholic on Saturday, was second on the team with 23 goals and 16 assists. Burnette led the team with 25 goals.
“I’m extremely proud of this group,” said Filar, referring to a team that dominated the SBC with a 10-0 league mark and won its first sectional title in three years. “It’s tough to end (the season) this way. Tate did a great job of pulling everybody together and getting them to work hard this season.
“(But) it just didn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to be. I’m really proud of these guys.”