McNick girls' comeback gets Rockets in state final

McNick girls' comeback gets Rockets in state final


McNick girls' comeback gets Rockets in state final


McNicholas captain Meghan Martella passes the ball off to a teammate. She put two goals in the back of the net as the Rockets beat Granville 3-1, advancing them to the DII state finals.

WEST CARROLLTON – The Granville Blue Aces girls’ soccer team put McNicholas (20-1) in a position the Rockets haven’t been accustomed to this season.

Granville (12-6-4) junior forward Nikki Cox put her team up early in the first half, while the Rockets struggled to score despite controlling possession and peppering goalkeeper Ciahnna Winston with several shots on goal. In the second half, McNicholas found its form by putting three shots in the back of the net to pick up a 3-1 victory and to earn a spot in the Division II state title game at Columbus Crew Stadium.

Senior midfielder Meghan Martella scored twice in the second half and fellow senior Karli Thul added the other goal in the Rockets’ victory.

“We haven’t had a lot of adversitythis postseason,” McNicholas head coach Ben Kirkpatrick said. “The early goal threw us for a loop, but we showed that we can fight back through anything and I was really proud of girls for staying with the game plan.”

Rockets sophomore midfielder Sophie Gorman was active in the Blue Aces’ half of the field and was one of the reasons why the Rockets held a firm shots-on-goal advantage in the first half. But, Winston hung tough and kept a clean sheet.

At the 32-minute mark, Cox worked her way behind the Rockets’ back line and booted one by senior goalkeeper Lauren Rice for the lead.

Even with all the stops Winston made, the Rockets’ offense continued to apply pressure. Forward Emma Heise made runs up the right side of the field and crossed a couple passes that were just beyond the feet of her teammates.

Other shots sailed high above the crossbar, prompting the McNicholas cheering section to plead for lower shots on net.

“Going in (to the game), we knew they were going to put a lot of numbers behind the ball and I told the girls at halftime that ‘you have to keep possessing the ball, look for quicker chances and if you see something, take the chance so we can start creating something.’ With the ball being wet, you never know what is going to happen.”

Martella took her coach’s advice and the evened the score with a header off a corner kick with 24 minutes left in regulation.

“We’re normally a second-half team, so once we got down, we knew that we had to comeback and and win it,” Martella said.

Shortly after, Thul scored the go-ahead goal and Martella later provided some insurance when she blasted a free kick past Winston with just over five minutes left in the game.

“After the header, we tried to possess the ball for the rest of the time, but we couldn’t,” she said. “I took that free kick and was hoping for the best.”

The Rockets will meet Archbishop Hoban (16-4-2) Friday. The Knights defeated the Lima Bath Wildcats 3-1 in the other half of the bracket to advance to the Division II state title game.

“This is one of the best feelings we’ve ever felt,” Martella said. “This was one of our goals from the beginning and (this win) is really exciting and I am glad I got to spend it with my team.”


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