St. Marys ties Celina, Shawnee for WBL boys soccer championship

ST. MARYS — After St. Marys dropped its opening Western Buckeye League match of the season to Celina (3-0 on 8/31), the Roughriders quickly refocused.

Thursday, in a key Western Buckeye League boys’ soccer matchup with Bath, St. Marys grabbed a share of the WBL title with a 4-0 victory over Bath at Roughrider Field.

St. Marys ends its regular season with an 8-1-0 WBL record and a 14-2-1 overall mark. The Roughriders share the league title with Celina and Shawnee. St. Marys, Celina, and Shawnee entered Thursday league play with 7-1-0 WBL records.

Thursday, Celina defeated Wapakoneta 5-0, and Shawnee got by Kenton 3-1 to make it a three-way tie for the WBL crown.

Bath slips to 8-8-0 overall and ends the regular season with a 3-6-0 league record.

This is the first WBL title for St. Marys in boys’ soccer, since 2014.

“It’s amazing,” St. Marys head coach James Holtzapple said. “It’s all (about) the boys. … They’ve been fantastic throughout the whole season. They just fight, fight.

“Our first league game (against Celina) was a loss. So, to come back after that and play the way we played – and never letting that define who we are – they are tenacious. … They just keep going.”

Against Bath, St. Marys reeled off 19 shots on goal. Bath goalkeeper Landyn Vreeland made 15 saves on the night.

Bath mustered just four shots on goal. Bryce Hoehn took three of those shots for the Wildcats.

The Roughriders got on the scoreboard with their first goal of the night at the 23:02 mark of the first half. Michael Grothause drove a shot to the back of the net after teammate Vincent Holtzapple’s shot was blocked by Vreeland, and the ball bounced to Grothause.

St. Marys registered its second goal with 3:15 left to play in the first half. Braden Keller drove a shot past Vreeland to put the Roughriders up 2-0, which held up to the halftime break.

In the first half, the Roughriders took eight shots on goal.

St. Marys kept pushing the pace in the second half. The Roughriders took 11 shots on goal in the final 40 minutes of action.

The Roughriders’ third score came just a little more than a minute into the second half. Doug Ruppert took a deep shot from the left corner of the box to put St. Marys up 3-0. Keller was credited with the assist on that goal.

The last score came at the 26:28 mark when Keller scored his second goal of the night – a close-range shot inside the box.

For the match, Keller took three shots on goal. Ruppert took five shots for the Roughriders.

St. Marys goalkeeper Cayden Ballweg made four saves on the night.

Coach Holtzapple said his players know just one speed.

“They play hard. It’s like they wear people down. As soon as we break that seal of getting one in the goal – sometimes it’s tougher than others – I feel like that’s one notch. They have motors that don’t stop, and that’s what I love about them. They want the ‘W’, but they’re having a great time doing it.”

St. Marys took nine corner kicks, while Bath took two.

St. Marys will quickly turn its focus to the postseason tournament. The No. 2 seed Roughriders open Division II sectional play when it takes on Defiance Monday, October 16 at Roughrider Field with kick-off set for 6 p.m.

“I think our expectations are high,” Holtzapple said. “As long as we can keep playing fast, smart soccer, I think good things can happen. I cannot explain how proud I am of these boys. They just fought back (after loss to Celina). They’ve gotten better. We kept practicing. It’s all them. … They’ve done fantastic.”

Holtzapple gave Bath credit for how they competed Thursday night.

“I want to throw out how impressed I was at Bath’s competitiveness. They never gave up the entire game. So, I want to say thank you to them. … That was fantastic,” Holtzapple said.

Bath will take on Napoleon on Monday, October 16 at Napoleon in its sectional semifinal. Kick-off is set for 6 p.m.

Game Summary

SOG: St. Marys 19; Bath 4

GOALS: St. Marys – Braden Keller 2, Michael Grothause 1, Doug Ruppert 1

SAVES: St. Marys – Cayden Ballweg 4; Bath – Landyn Vreeland 15

ASSISTS: Braden Keller (SM) 1

CORNER KICKS: St. Marys 9; Bath 2

RECORDS: Bath 8-8-0, 3-6-0 WBL; St. Marys 14-2-1, 8-1-0 WBL