WAPAKONETA — For a player who has scored more than 20 goals this season, it’s surprising to hear Wapakoneta’s Alex Lause admit he was nervous.
And if he was, it certainly didn’t show.
Lause dribbled around and through three Elida defenders before unleashing a left-footed shot that hit the back of the net and gave Wapakoneta a 3-2 overtime win in the Division II sectional finals at Ryan Field on Thursday.
Second-seeded Wapakoneta (15-1-1) will play Celina (12-2-3) at 5 p.m. Monday at Elida in the district semifinals. Celina and Wapakoneta tied 2-2 this past Monday to finish the regular season, the tie cost Wapak the WBL title and gave it to St. Marys.
Tied 2-2 in sudden-death overtime of Thursday’s game, Lause got the ball on the right side near Elida’s goal with a little more than five minutes remaining in the OT period. He dribbled and held the ball for quite awhile before finally sprinting toward the center and smacking a shot past Elida’s keeper for the game-winner at the 5:01 mark.
“I was holding it for too long, I was a little nervous,” said Lause, a sophomore forward. “I was taking it along and I saw two guys there, so I cut it back. Then another guy came, so I tried to cut it again. So I just took the shot, like (assistant coach Steve Melano) says, two tricks and shoot.”
It was Lause’s second goal of the game and his 22nd of the season.
“You put him out there on that right side and he can dribble the ball with the best of them and make you miss,” Wapakoneta coach Keith Rambin said. “He’s got the ability to give you a faint and move you one direction and go the other. There’s not too many kids under that type of pressure who can go with their off-foot, his left foot, and put it in the back of the net. He’s a stud, glad he’s on our team.”
Lause’s first goal came just 16 seconds into the second half off a rebound from a shot by Sam Hinegardner to tie the score at 1-1. Elida answered at the 36:37 mark when Jerod Houston scored his second goal of the game by flicking the ball straight up to himself and booting it into the net.
“Jerod finished two really nice balls off for us,” Elida coach Tom Thomas said. “Unfortunately, Wapakoneta’s offense is just hard to keep off the scoreboard.”
Hinegardner tied the game at 2-2 with 24:08 left off an assist from Collin Lenhart.
Aside from a few Elida opportunities, the Redskins mostly controlled the rest of the half and into the overtime. In fact, in the final three minutes of regulation Wapakoneta just missed a few shots that would have ended the game.
Rambin, whose offense didn’t do much in the first half, switched from a 3-5-2 to a 3-3-4 in the second, which brought the pressure to Elida.
“We made some critical adjustments that paid off and our guys just never quit,” Rambin said. “I told the Elida players, it was a pleasure to be a part of a game like that.”
Wapakoneta finished with 11 shots on goal to Elida’s 5. Wapakoneta goalie Tristan Meyer came up with three saves to Elida’s Garrett Brinkman grabbing eight.
“Both teams played really well, they just found one at the end,” Thomas said. “I’m really proud of how our guys played. They fought hard.”