By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Bay High School girls varsity soccer team went into Avon Middle School last Wednesday determined to get a West Shore Conference victory, and to keep the loss column blank. The Rockets achieved both goals by defeating Avon 2-0.
Senior defender Sam Meisenburg found the back of the net on a free kick from 25 yards out to put the Rockets up 1-0 with 20 minutes left in the first half, and Bay never looked back.
“This is a tough place for us to play,” Bay head coach Jack Griffiths said. “We’ve lost some tough games here years ago, so it’s always nice to win here.”
Bay (7-0-3, 3-0-1) used the whole pitch, creating offensive opportunities through possession of the ball.
“I think we possessed the ball pretty well today,” Griffiths said. “If you spread the field, there’s a lot more lanes to attack from.
“The last three or four games we’ve been offensively challenged – it’s been hard to get goals. We’ve been getting shots, just not getting the goals. So, it’s nice to get a couple goals here.”
The Rockets added the second goal of the game when senior midfielder Erin Carter took the ball right through the heart of the Eagles defense and shot it past Avon goalkeeper Rachel Grudzien.
Bay outshot Avon 8-6 in the first half, but Avon kept pace in the second half, with each team putting six shots on goal.
Grudzien tallied 10 saves in the game while Bay goalkeeper Ashley Grisnik saved eight.
“Grisnik played very, very well,” Griffiths said. “She’s been our surprise of the year. We didn’t even know – we had a four-year starter in goal last year, who graduated – so we didn’t know what was going to happen. She’s been real big for us this year. We have all the confidence in the world in her, and it’s been a good year for her.”
This game marked Avon’s fourth loss in a row (after starting the season 3-0-3), but Eagles head coach Danie Schnaufer is seeing better effort from her squad every day.
“We’ve been struggling with coming to the game at 100 percent,” She said. “The girls definitely worked hard today. I’m disappointed in the loss, but I’m happy that they’re ‘bringing it’ when they play.”
In a week’s span, Avon (3-4-3) has had to play some of the best teams in the area, including Rocky River, Magnificat, an upstart North Olmsted squad and Bay.
“I was looking at our schedule and I was wondering why we put all these games back to back,” Schnaufer continued. “It’s not the best confidence-booster in the middle of the season, to go 0-4 over the last four games. We have six games left to turn it around and get it moving in the right direction come tournament time.
“(Sept. 16), I was mad at the loss (to North Olmsted). They out-worked us. But today, I’m disappointed in the loss, but still happy about how the girls played.”
Avon stepped up its offensive intensity with its 12 shots on goal, but the Eagles still struggle to find the back of the net.
“That’s been our struggle this year,” Schnaufer said. “We only have eight goals on the season. I think we are maybe focusing too much on that fact and we’re starting to choke in front of the net. We’re going to try to focus on different areas of the game, and hopefully, it naturally comes. That’s what we’re working on at practice and what we talked about at halftime. It’s just being forced right now, I think.”
Bay is trying to keep pace in the conference with Rocky River, which is also in the unbeaten ranks, as the Pirates pushed their record to 10-0-1 after a win over Perrysburg (last year’s Division I state champion) on Saturday.
“It’s been us and them for a while now,” Griffiths said. “We knew going in that Rocky River has a very good team this year – they didn’t lose anybody from graduation. We knew that they were probably the team to beat.
“We play them in the last game of the year, so it would be great if we both went into that game undefeated and the winner wins it all.”