OTTAWA — It was the thrill of a lifetime.
And now the Ottawa-Glandorf Titans want more.
Ottawa-Glandorf’s girls soccer team played in the state mecca of soccer, Columbus Crew Stadium, last fall when it advanced to the Division III state championship game.
And it was only minutes after the Titans’ 2-0 loss to Hamilton Badin in the state championship match when the non-senior players began thinking of this year.
“Right after the game, it was like, ‘Let’s go back next year,’ ” O-G senior Dani Ellerbrock said.
Added senior Alex Verhoff, “On the bus ride home, we talked about what we experienced and said, ‘Let’s go back.’ ”
Only three starters return from last year’s team that went 20-2-1 and became the first soccer team from the area, boys or girls, to reach the state championship match.
The returning starters are junior goalkeeper Cassie Schroeder, center defender Ellerbrock and forward Verhoff.
“It was crazy,” Ellerbrock said of playing at Crew Stadium. “The atmosphere, and playing with all those girls, was amazing.”
Added Cassie Schroeder, “It was pretty amazing. It was an experience I’ll never forget.”
And while eight starters need to be replaced, seven lettermen saw plenty of action, as they rotated in throughout the year. Those veterans are junior midfielder Katie Fuetter, junior forward Leanna Zynda, junior midfielder Kylie Gerdeman, senior defender Paige Klass, senior forward Kylie Schimmoeller, junior forward Brooke Beach and junior midfielder Alexis Schroeder.
This year the Titans move from Division III to Division II.
Coach Allison Schroeder returns to her head coaching duties this year, after being an assistant coach last year under Chris Podraski. It’s Schroeder’s second year as head coach, after taking over in 2013.
“It was a really good experience overall, being the first team from the area to go down there,” Schroeder said. “We had a lot on our shoulders. We thought we just didn’t have school pride, but had pride for northwest Ohio, as well. …. It gave them them a little bit of a taste and now they’re ready to try to get back and get more.”
Coach Schroeder said the state experience was huge.
“It think it was really special,” Schroeder said. “And the fact that they can come back and have another chance at it, is even better.”
The Titans were balanced from front to the back line last year. They scored 106 goals, with the scoring coming from all over the field.
The defense posted 16 shutouts and allowed only 11 goals on the year.
“We’re a very young team, so we have a lot of girls who didn’t start last year and who weren’t on varsity, so we’re putting people in different positions to see what fit makes the most sense,” Schroeder said. “But our defense is very strong again.”
The Titans expect to line up similar to last year, with three forwards, three midfielders and the flat-back four defense in front of the veteran Cassie Schroeder in goal.
The center defenders will be Ellerbrock and Rachel Warnecke.
Ellerbrock said communication and chemistry will be the big keys.
“I think if we bond more in practice and out of soccer and get to know each other more, we’ll get there,” Ellerbrock said.
Added Verhoff, “We have a lot of new people and it’s getting there. You can tell as each game (scrimmage) goes on, that you know when people are going to make their runs and where the pass is going to be, so you know it’s getting better.”
The Titans feel, once the communication is in sync between the veterans and rookies, they’ll be ready.
“I’m ready to go back,” Cassie Schroeder said.
Ellerbrock added, “It’s the major goal. It can happen again. To get back, would be super awesome.”
Reach Tom Usher at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Lima_Usher.