Wapakoneta Redskins sophomore Brianna Pequignot (7) tries to steal the ball from St. Marys freshman Jenna Norton (15) in a Division II Northwest District girls soccer sectional championship at Celina High School. (Staff photo/Michelle Frank)
CELINA — The St. Marys Roughriders overcame a 2-0 deficit about as quickly as a team can, as they finally broke through on the scoreboard midway through the second half and scored four times in fewer than 9 minutes.
The furious rally gave the Roughriders a 4-2 win Thursday over the Wapakoneta Redskins in a Division II Northwest District girls soccer sectional championship at Celina High School, in a contest between the two rival schools and Western Buckeye League foes.
A brief rain shower at the match’s start soaked the field for the remainder of the night Thursday, causing players to slip at times and the ball to be wet continuously.
A goal by St. Marys’ Anabela Godinho at 22:24 remaining in the match all of the sudden gave the Roughriders and their crowd some life.
Fewer than 5 minutes later, St. Marys’ Kami Menchhofer scored the equalizer at 17:53, tying the match at 2-2.
The two sudden goals snowballed the momentum for the Roughriders, as St. Marys’ Kristen Dammeyer notched the go-ahead 2 minutes later at 15:38 and concluded the scoring another 2 minutes later at 13:45.
St. Marys varsity coach Paul Dingledine explained what halftime adjustments the team made facing a 2-0 deficit and how much of a factor those adjustments were in the four goals scored.
“In the first half, we weren’t connecting on our passes,” Dingledine said. “The rain and the field made it kinda difficult for us. Getting a goal down, we were pressing ourselves too hard. We talked about going backside and making diagonal passes.
“We started making better diagonal passes, which I had just talked to the girls about, and it made all of the difference in the world,” he said.
Redskins varsity coach Ross Kantner provided his thoughts on Thursday’s match.
“We had a good game plan,” Kantner said. “We executed well in the first half.
“We just had some breakdowns in the second half, and St. Marys took advantage of them,” he said. “Once that happened, the kids got their heads down, and St. Marys kept coming.”
Kantner identified the common element among St. Marys’ four second half goals.
“We got caught standing and watching,” Kantner said. “In the first half, we were beating them to the balls and were much more intense and much more aggressive.
“We hit a stretch where we were standing and watching,” he said. “With a team like St. Marys, they will take advantage of that. That’s why they were tied for second in the WBL and why we were where we were.”
St. Marys finished 6-2-1 to tie with Bath for WBL runner-up. Wapakoneta was seventh in the league at 3-5-1.
Wapakoneta scored its first goal at 22:23 in the first half on a header by Olivia Cousino.
With a 1-0 halftime lead, the Redskins found their second goal right away in the second half, as Sara Warner put them ahead 2-0 with 39:36.
“They scored in the first minute, and I thought it was going to deflate us,” Dingledine said. “But when we got the one goal back, it picked us up.”
Wapak’s loss ended its season Thursday with a 10-6-1 record.
Kantner explained his thoughts on the season compared to his expectations entering the fall.
“It surprised me that we were undefeated in our non-league,” Kantner said. “I was disappointed in the league. I thought we could do better in the league, but it turned out to be stronger overall than what I thought it was going to be.”
The Redskins had four seniors — as Warner, Mackenzie Custer, Taylor Sutton and student manager Hilary Bourne — involved with the final match of their high school careers Thursday.
Kantner described the impact the seniors had on the Wapakoneta program.
“Our seniors did a nice job,” Kantner said. “I’ve tried to make the kids understand we’re trying to build a program. The seniors laid some cornerstones to build from.
“We have a ways to go, obviously, but the seniors have been a real important part of building a good foundation,” he said.
St. Marys, with its win Thursday, advanced to the Division II Northwest District tournament in Elida.
The Roughriders will face the Western Buckeye League champion, the Bath Wildcats, at 5 p.m. Tuesday in a district semifinal at Elida Middle School.
“We had a heck of a match against them up there in the league. We played hard,” Dingledine said. “If we play like the second half here, it should be a good match.”
St. Marys edged Bath 2-1 in the two teams’ regular season meeting Sept. 12.
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