By Stefanie Kilnapp
The Westlake and North Olmsted girls varsity soccer teams battled it out for the title of district champions Saturday afternoon at Avon Middle School, with the Demons coming out on top, 1-0.
Judging from the first half, either team could have come out with the win, but Westlake junior midfielder Megan Konrad scored the goal that would take Westlake one step further into the playoffs.
The Demons dominated the first 20 minutes of the game, making many attempts at the Eagles goal, but none were successful. The ball rarely crossed into Westlake territory, but the dynamic changed sooner than Westlake hoped.
North Olmsted had a lot of corner kick opportunities, but to the Demons’ fortune, they were not taken advantage of.
“I thought we were pressuring them pretty well; we were afraid of giving up the corner kick or a free kick, which has been our Achilles heel all year,” Demons head coach Scott Jones said.
Westlake did not oversee the complexities this game would have to offer. Jones knew North Olmsted would be tough.
“More than half the goals we’ve been giving up this year were off free kicks or penalty kicks or free kicks, so if we can eliminate those, we don’t give up many goals,” he said. “We were worried about that, because we know North Olmsted is good at that kind of stuff.”
Demons junior goalkeeper Alexis Carpenter felt the pressure coming from the opposition, but dealt with it very well.
“We think she’s one of the best goalkeepers in Northeast Ohio, if not the state of Ohio,” Jones said.
Carpenter’s efforts remained strong throughout the remainder of the game, allowing no score by North Olmsted.
The Eagles kept their cool for the duration of the first half, defending exceptionally well and making a critical save that would keep the playing field level at halftime, 0-0.
After the start of the second half, it was made clear that the wind and bitter cold would play a factor in this match.
“With the wind and everything against a good team you’re going to give some up,” admits Jones, “and the girls stepped up and handled it.”
The Demons tightened up their game particularly in the remaining thirty minutes, showing the Eagles that they deserved to be district champions.
“It feels great redeeming ourselves from last year, we’ve worked so hard to get here,” Westlake senior fullback Maddie Sandhu said. “We knew what this game meant.”
As for the Eagles, head coach Erika Fielder said, “We just didn’t really show up to play today like we did the last game,” but on a lighter note, “I’m just proud of them, they had a lot of fun this year, great group of girls. We haven’t been this far in 8 or 9 years, so I’m proud of how far they went and what they did.”
Konrad’s goal with the assistance of Lauren Hurst and 27:52 minutes left on the clock, making the score Westlake 1, North Olmsted, 0, didn’t stop the Demons from giving their all to secure their win. Westlake would go on to make two very close attempts at North Olmsted’s goal, and Carpenter would make a spectacular save with 1:26 left.
Westlake Senior fullback Shannon Kruger told of how “great” she felt having earned this win. She and Sandhu agree that they will be staying focused and working hard at practices. They both emphasize the importance of giving 110% with everything they do in this program.
“Obviously the girls have worked real hard, and you know it’s starting to pay off now; they’ve done a great job for us all year,” Jones said, “They’re kind of putting it together right now, so it’s a good time to be peaking for us.”
Westlake played Medina last night in the regional semifinals. The winner will play for the regional championship on Saturday at 3 pm. The site of that game is yet to be determined.
“We’ll give it the best we have,” Jones declared.