Tuesday’s game between Woodmore and Oak Harbor was not a conference matchup.
But the Wildcats 3-2 victory may very well still be something to build on.
“They were ranked seventh in the state,” Woodmore coach Jason Allen said. “It was a big game for us. The win signifies our future and where we can go. The team is really starting to turn the corner. There are people coming off the bench and really helping out, and kids are stepping up who didn’t have the opportunity last year.
“Our depth is a huge factor. Determination. Our motto is together as one and we all came together (Tuesday).”
The Wildcats (4-1) and Rockets (3-1-1) tied each of the last two years following a win for Oak Harbor. The Rockets have won the Sandusky Bay Conference every year since the girls league was formed, while Woodmore was second in the Northern Buckeye Conference the last two seasons..
“We’re improving,” said Emma Rothert, who scored twice Tuesday. “The game was intense. This will prepare us for Lake. We’ve been so close (to the league championship) for two years. We want first.”
Cameron Bench scored Woodmore’s remaining goal Tuesday as the Wildcats tallied three straight for a 3-1 advantage at the half. Oak Harbor’s Paige Velliquette opened the scoring and Ivy Martin made 14 saves to keep her team within striking distance.
Emma Barney scored on a header with about 23 minutes left to play off a corner kick assist from Amanda Hetrick for a 3-2 margin. The Rockets largely controlled play in their offensive zone for the remainder of the game and Wildcats goalkeeper Julia Barbee made a diving stop on a slow shot for one of her seven saves just prior to the final whistle.
“We played Saturday and had the ball on that end the whole game, but struggled to finish,” Oak Harbor coach Renee Goldstein said of a tie with Huron. “We’re still switching positions to find a comfort zone. We have more underclassmen (six) than upperclassmen starting. We have girls in new roles.
“The girls coming in are amazing players and they fit in, but we need to learn to play in that comfort zone together. We’re working on the first touch and being first to the ball. They focus in practice and work on their weaknesses.”
The Rockets understood Tuesday’s matchup would serve as a litmus test and took the loss to heart. The group’s chemistry is strong off the field, but still developing on it having lost several productive graduates.
“It’s good they take it hard,” Goldstein said. “They don’t like to lose. They know they have the skill and talent to change that. With so many young girls, nerves are part of it. They need to get out there and play more and win one of these (type of) games.
“I know they have that talent. I have a great group of girls. I know they have it in them.”
Freshman Lily Rothert assisted on one of her sister’s goals, while Emma Rothert also added an assist. Lily found Emma in the middle of the field for a one-touch tally.
All the Wildcats seemed to play like sisters Tuesday as they communicated and demonstrated strong vision of where opponents and teammates were positioned or coming from.
“We came together,” Barbee said. “It was a physical game and we held on.”