ST. MARYS — After almost 73 minutes of scoreless soccer, St. Marys and Wapakoneta each scored a goal in the game’s final seven minutes as they played to a 1-1 tie in a Western Buckeye League varsity girls soccer match Monday at West Field in St. Marys.
After the Roughriders took a late 1-0 lead, Wapak scored the equalizer and threw the proverbial wrench into St. Marys’ WBL title defense.
“We’ve spent a lot of time talking about mental toughness, of not giving up, of coming back,” Redskins coach Ross Kantner said. “Tonight the kids were very focused and we believed in what we were trying to do.
“We even made some changes to our formation and line-up and the kids bought in and believed in it. We were able to come back and knock one in.”
Missed opportunities early came back to bite St. Marys, narrowing the margin for error in the Roughriders’ run at repeating as league champs.
St. Marys couldn’t convert on its numerous shots on goal and then gave up a 1-0 lead with about five minutes left in the match, leading to the 1-1 draw.
“We shot and shot and shot and didn’t finish,” St. Marys coach Paul Dingledine said. “We crossed the ball and didn’t finish. The girls on the bench were talking about just missing it. Just about doesn’t do it. Until you put it into the back of the net, it’s going to be a heartbreak.”
It’s the second tie in WBL play for the Roughriders, who are 4-0-2 in WBL play and tied in second place behind still-unbeaten Shawnee. The Indians were 5-0 in the league heading into Monday night, with St. Marys at 4-0-2, Celina at 3-0-2 and Ottawa-Glandorf at 3-1-1.
St. Marys still controls its own destiny, with Shawnee looming on the schedule at the end of the season. Shawnee still must play Celina in October, as well.
“It doesn’t cost us everything, but it definitely tightens things up in the league,” Dingledine said. “We’re still in it, but it’s going to be tough with O-G, Shawnee and Van Wert left on the schedule.”
St. Marys took a 1-0 lead with 7:07 left in the match when defender Hannah Yaney kicked in a liner to the left side of the net to break the scoreless tie.
Less than three minutes later, Wapakoneta stormed back down the field and tied the game with a Justine Watercutter ground kick past a diving keeper to the right side of the net at the 4:43 mark.
Dingledine said his defense broke down.
“We’ve talked about holding the line and giving our keeper the room to get the ball coming into the 18’,” Dingledine said. “(Wapak) kicked it into the 18’ and we went right in there with them. That’s what can happen when you allow those kind of things to happen.”
St. Marys controlled the action for the majority of the night, getting dozens of crosses. The Riders hit the crossbar and post a half dozen times and Wapak keeper Ashley Knippen took on a steady barrage of shots, but nothing went in until Yaney’s breakthrough goal.
St. Marys outshot Wapak 20-4. Knippen had 14 saves.
“I feel Ashley is the best goalkeeper in the league,” Kantner said. “She has been assaulted with shots every game and she’s done a nice job. Our defense has done a nice job and Ashley is a main cog in that. We’ve got a lot of confidence in that defense, we made some changes and we played well.”