ONTARIO – After five straight trips to the Sweet 16 and beyond, last year’s 5-1 loss in the district championship to Clear Fork was like a shock to the system.
“It was different. It’s not something we were used to,” Ontario senior Olivia Shaver said. “We’re used to winning the district championship.”
This year, Ontario returned to form and will play Parma Heights Holy Name at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Wadsworth in a Division II girls soccer regional semifinal. To get there, the Warriors dispatched longtime Richland County rival Clear Fork 1-0.
“It’s a very big accomplishment. We had a great upset here last year — hearing from the upperclassmen — so this is definitely a change and we needed it,” Ontario freshman Bria Meisse said after her lone goal proved to be the difference in Saturday’s district title win. “We brought that district championship back home to Ontario.”
In 2009, the Warriors started their streak to the regionals. In 2010, they made the Division II Final Four, and in 2012, they were Division III state runners-up.
“We’ve got some girls who have been there a couple times, and I think that helped us,” Ontario coach Larry Atkinson said. “They gave a nice speech before we left the school (Saturday) about the experiences and thanking the underclassmen for what they did.”
Ontario will need more big speeches Tuesday. While the Warriors are 17-2 and ranked No. 6 in the final state coaches poll, Holy Name is a deceptive 10-7-1. The Green Wave, who play a big-time schedule that included matches against top-ranked Walsh Jesuit in Division I and Akron Hoban in Division II, have knocked off state-ranked powers to get to the regional. Holy Name beat No. 4 Bay Village Bay 3-2 in a shootout and No. 9 Rocky River 3-0 in the district title match.
“We went up and watched them the other night against Rocky River,” Atkinson said. “Technically, they are a very good team. They have a couple of players who are outstanding. We have to make sure we know where they are at (and) just don’t give them anything easy. Don’t make that mental mistake at the defensive end to give them something cheap.”
Holy Name has scored 44 goals and given up 32. Meanwhile, Ontario has scored 96 goals and allowed just 12. The two have a common opponent as Hoban beat the Green Wave 4-1 and Ontario 3-1 this season.
“We just need to stay focused and keep working hard. It’s going to be a tough game again this far in tournaments,” Shaver said. “We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing.”
The winner advances to Saturday’s regional championship at a site to be determined at 3 p.m against either Oak Harbor or Celina.