Van Wert’s Cassy Zartman watches a ball in a game against Ottawa-Glandorf at Van Wert High School Tuesday evening. The Lady Cougars fell 2-1. (Times Bulletin/Brian Bassett)
BY BRIAN BASSETT
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
VAN WERT - With a hard wind blowing out of the south during Tuesday evening's girls soccer contest between Van Wert and Ottawa-Glandorf at Van Wert High School, it is no surprise that all the match's goals were scored in the north goal.
Unfortunately for the home Lady Cougars, O-G put one more goal in than Van Wert, and the Lady Titans escaped Van Wert with a 2-1 Western Buckeye League win.
O-G had the wind at its back in the first half, and got a pair of goals. When the teams switched sides after halftime, Van Wert put a goal in, but it was too little, too late.
"The wind was such an advantage. Obviously they used it in the first half and got a couple of goals. We were able to get one in the second half," said Van Wert coach Rich Nouza.
Despite the loss, Nouza was proud of his team's performance. "It was a good effort - we played hard today. I was really impressed because we had a game yesterday. It's tough on back-to-back (days). I wasn't sure how much (the girls) would have today in terms of energy, but we played hard today. I'm as happy as I can be with a loss."
It didn't take long for the Lady Titans to get on the board. After a shot-on-goal by Danielle Schroeder at the 38:53 mark of the first half was saved by Van Wert sophomore keeper Emily Bair, Schroeder responded with a goal 45 seconds later.
Almost six minutes later, at the 32:48 mark of the first half, Michelle Maag added to the O-G lead with a goal from 20-yards out to the right of the goal.
"That was a nice shot from a tough angle. The wind might have helped a little bit," Nouza explained of the Maag goal, which put the Lady Titans up 2-0 less than nine minutes into the game.
"(O-G) did a nice job of sending some diagonal through-balls. I made a couple of subs trying to get the word out - how we were trying to defend them. The girls did a good job, helped shut them down. They only got those two goals early," Nouza added.
The Lady Cougar defense clamped down and shutout O-G the remainder of the game. Unfortunately, the Lady Titan defense also played very well.
Van Wert struggled to get the ball into O-G territory in the first half, against the Lady Titan defense and the wind, but they did at the 14:48 mark. Junior forward Hannah Hulbert nailed a shot into the wind which hit the crossbar and sailed high, narrowly missing a goal.
"We had a good effort in the first half - had one skim off the crossbar. If we could have gotten that one it might have changed things a little bit," Nouza said.
The Lady Titans had their best scoring opportunity through the remainder at the 7:28 mark of the first, when Maag fired a shot from seven yards out. Bair was not in position, and the shoot looked like a sure-fire goal, but senior defenseman Sierra Kesler deflected the shot.
Nouza credited Kesler and the rest of the Cougar defense for coming up with many big plays throughout the night. "Sierra played hard. She's got a good nose for the ball as a senior captain. She's holding down the fort back there on the defense... Emily Bair had a nice game in the goal - she made some nice saves.
"Alea Hill, I thought, was really solid in the back as our sweeper - she did a nice job. Claire White had been really solid on the outside defense all season."
The game went to the half with O-G leading 2-0.
Van Wert's offense picked up with the wind at its back in the second half, possessing the ball more. They managed seven shots on goal in the second period, to only one in the first.
Hulbert had most of the shots-on-goal for the Cougars, but Lady Titan defender Megan Hoehn held strong with some impressive saves.
The Lady Cougars finally broke free at the 7:30 mark in the second half. Van Wert was awarded a free kick from 20-yards out. Hulbert took the kick and sent the ball past a line of O-G defenders, but Hoehn came through with a diving save.
The ball bounced away from Hoehn, however, and junior midfielder Lauren Mathew was there to send the ball past Hoehn for Van Wert's only goal of the game.
The Lady Cougars made several more pushes at the goal, but couldn't convert in the last seven minutes, and the Lady Titans held on for a 2-1 win.
O-G ended the game with 20 shots-on-goal, 10 in each half. Van Wert had eight, one in the first half and seven in the second.
The win improves the Lady Titans to 10-4-1, 5-3-1 in WBL play. The Lady Cougars fall to 4-11, 3-6 in WBL play.