ELIDA — For the past two seasons, Wapakoneta has lost in the Division II district semifinal game to end their season and after Bath opened up a 3-0 lead after the first half, it appeared the Redskins were heading for another early exit from the postseason.
However, the resilient Redskins rallied for three goals in the second half and then when Emily Ruppert fired one into the back of the net at the 11:16 mark not only completed the comeback to give Wapakoneta a 4-3 win in double overtime Tuesday night.
Redskin head coach Mike Foor said he calmly reminded his team that they were not playing their brand of soccer that saw them finish with an 16-0 mark in the regular season.
“We talked about intensity,” Foor said. “We knew what their game plan was going to be and we had a lack of effort in the first half and it showed and they picked us apart. We have not given up three goals in a game all season. We talked about intensity and asked them ‘how do you want to go down.’””
With the win, Wapakoneta advances to the district final against Elida at Elida Saturday at 2p.m. Bath ends its season with an 10-5-2 mark.
Bath head coach Brooke Shultz said that even with the 3-0 advantage after the first 40 minutes, she knew Wapakoneta was dangerous and stressed to her team to not let up.
“They are a great team so the message the entire time is that it is 0-0,” Shultz said. “From the beginning of the game whether we were up or down the score was 0-0 because we knew they were capable of coming back like that.”
Both coaches agreed the strong wind throughout the game as all seven goals scored in the game on the wind-aided side of the pitch.
Utilizing the wind at their back, Bath jumped on Wapakoneta for two goals within the first five minutes of the game when Kelsey Wallace scored her first goal of the game when she fired a shot that slipped through Redskin keepers’ Corrine Raney’s hands at the 36:32 mark.
Less than four minutes later Wallace was celebrating her second goal of the game. Finding herself deep in Wapakoneta territory the senior blasted one from around 15 yards out that squeezed between the near post and Raney for the second score at the 32:33 mark.
Bath senior Jaidyn Hale make it 3-0 when she booted one over the outstretched hand of Raney from 2 yards out with 16:04 left and by the time halftime came, the Redskins faced a tough hill to climb in the second half
In addition to upping their intensity for the second half, the Redskins needed to score early if they were going to make a comeback and that is exactly what happened when Wapakoneta sliced the lead 3-2 within the first five minutes of the second period.
Wapakoneta’s Madison Lause got the Redskins on the board at the 38:08 mark when her corner kick, with a little aid from the wind, bent it into the goal.
Less than two minutes later, Katie Manger, the WBL player of the year, blasted a shot past the Bath goalie in the box with 36:23 left in regulation.
Lause’s second goal of the game and the half would be the equalizer for Wapakoneta after the Redskin sophomore kicked one in on a lose ball in the box at the 26:26 mark of the game.
“It was huge,” Foor said about Wapakoneta’s scoring early in the second half. “We needed to score quickly, set the pace and set the tone and get our confidence up and shake their confidence and we did and it turned the tide of the game.”
After an uneventful first overtime with no solid scoring opportunity, the Redskins, with the win in the second overtime, came out determined to the end the game.
And that is exactly what happened a little more than four minutes in the game when Emily Ruppert, receiving a long pass, pushed one into the net to secure the win with 11:16 left in the game.
Elida 1, Shawnee 0
Persistence paid off for Elida.
After peppering Shawnee goalie Grace O’ Connor for 60 minutes, Elida’s Jency Jenkins delivered a precision pass to Lauren Kesler who promptly buried in the back of the net score at the 19:54 mark of the second half.
The 1-0 score would hold up and Elida (10-6) will be heading to the Division II district finals for the third year in a row. After losing to Celina in 2015 and 2016, the Bulldogs will face Wapakoneta Saturday at 2 p.m. Shawnee ends its season with a 10-5-3 mark.
“I think I put too much emphasis on the first half of having the wind and I think the girls over thought it,” Elida head coach Elise Jenkins said “We got some really good looks and just couldn’t capitalize on and they were playing it really sunk in the middle. We were trying to get a perfect hit so I told the ladies `relax, you are going to get your chances and they finally finished it.’”
For the game, Elida has 12 shots on goal compared to Shawnee’s 1. In the losing effort, O’Connor finished with 11 saves and came up with key stops to keep the Bulldogs from scoring.
Shawnee, who had some early scoring opportunities, failed to mount an real scoring threat in the second half.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on twitter at @JoseNogueras1