FINDLAY — Liberty-Benton just kept coming.
But, Ottawa-Glandorf senior goalkeeper Kadie Hempfling worked the 18-yard box the same way she works the paint on the basketball court. Hempfling will be playing basketball at Bowling Green State University next school year.
Hempfling, who did not start playing keeper until several games ago, turned away nine shots on goal in the first half of Wednesday’s Division III district semifinal girls’ soccer game at Findlay’s Elmer Graham Stadium at Findlay High School.
However, L-B, with its great team speed, eventually got two shots to go into the back of the net in the second half, en route to a hard-fought 2-0 victory over O-G. With the win, L-B (13-3-2) advances to Saturday’s district championship game against No. 1- seed Riverdale at Findlay High School with kickoff set for 5 p.m. Riverdale defeated Van Buren 1-0, in Wednesday’s first semifinal game. O-G ends the season, 5-10-4.
On the night, L-B took 13 shots on goal, with the majority of those shots coming from inside the box. However, Hempfling came up big for the Titans, making 10 saves, and also moving outside her area several times to help out the defense.
“For her to be able to go from being our leading scorer last year – her first year on varsity and first year playing soccer (played volleyball for two years) – to playing keeper, is incredible,” O-G coach Allison Schroeder said. “We had keeper situations, with injuries and everything. So, putting somebody back there that we knew was strong and could handle being in the air, and to have the confidence to play it – she was definitely the first pick. So, I couldn’t be prouder at some of the saves she had. Coming in and not having the typical goalkeeping training that you would expect out of a varsity keeper, and to play the way she did; she did a really nice job. She’s an athlete, for sure.”
In the first half. L-B kept pushing the ball behind the O-G defense, which led to many fast-break opportunities. However, every time the Eagles seemed to have the numbers, Hempfling was right there to make the big save.
L-B did not get its first goal of the game, until nearly 17 minutes into the second half. Savanah Richards, who was denied six times by Hempfling in the first half, finally snuck a shot through, giving the Eagles the 1-0 lead.
Then, with 19:16 left to play in the game, it was Richards making a nice pass to Maya Rickle, who drove it in for the second goal.
“I’m not sure if we wore them down, because they’re a very physical team,” L-B coach Mark Pagano said. “They have speed. They have talent. I think we just had a little bit more tonight, and we were able to start possessing. I think in the first half, we tried to get the ball behind their defense way too much, and with their goalkeeper, it just wasn’t working. We talked at halftime about possessing the ball better and working it down the field, and that eventually led to the two goals.”
For the game, O-G managed just three shots on goal.
“We talked all season on how we struggle to score, and that our defense has to be perfect, and they were perfect that first half,” Schroeder said. “Obviously, there were mistakes made, but they kept the score 0-0 (in the first half).
“We don’t go very deep into our bench. So, our girls are used to playing 80 minutes. We didn’t have our starting forward (Caitlin Bockrath), who’s out with strep throat. She has eight goals on the season. So, we had to make adjustments. So, the way my girls handled themselves and were able to adjust (to playing new positions), I’m pleased at how well they actually played with those different things thrown at them.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.