SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Shawnee’s young team stood up to Western Buckeye League defending champion Wapakoneta in the first half.
In the second half, Shawnee did a whole lot more.
Shawnee freshman Bri Ridenour scored with 7:33 to play to give the Indians a 1-0 girls soccer victory over Wapakoneta Tuesday.
Wapakoneta (3-2, 1-1 WBL) went 19-1 last year and reached the regional semifinals.
“The kids battled and they showed mental toughness today,” Shawnee coach Caroline O’Brien said. “Especially coming against the WBL champions. It was great to get that win.
“I’m super proud of the kids for standing up and not backing down. Last year we were hammered (by Wapak 6-0) last year. We were the nail. I told them we weren’t going to be the nail this year.’’
Shawnee is 6-0, 2-0 in the WBL.
“This means a lot,” Shawnee all-WBL defender Madi Mason said. “That’s a good team.’’
Shawnee outplayed Wapak in a scoreless first half.
The Indians midfielders were controlling play and rolling into the offensive end.
But the tide turned in the second half, with the Wapak midfielders taking charge and making offensive runs.
“It was a crazy game for sure,’’ Wapak coach Mike Foor said. “They dominated us in the midfield in the first half. They outhustled us (in the first half), but we turned it on in the second half. We played our game and played our quick two-touch.
“We had a lot of opportunities in front of the net, a lot of crazy bounces and you have to have a little luck sometimes and we came up short on that tonight.’’
Each Wapak offensive charge was turned back by the Shawnee defenders Mason, Samantha Robertson and freshmen defenders Zoe Ludwig and Lilly Cleaves.
“It’s new (with the freshmen on defense), but they’re holding their own,” Mason said. “It was really hard, but Zoe, Sam and all of them had my back. You just had to be aggressive and not give up back there.’’
Shawnee goalkeeper Grace O’Connor had seven saves, with several diving stops and punch saves in the second half.
“The defense played well and Grace had some amazing saves the last few minutes,” O’Brien said.
O’Connor said, “It was definitely nerve-wracking, but I can’t say enough about my defense. Madi (Mason) never gave up. She was lying down in the box (with cramps) with three minutes left and I told her, ‘Madi, you have to keep pushing,’ and she did.’’
Then with eight minutes left, Shawnee charged down field.
Kennedy Jensen rifled a shot off of the right post and the ball landed 12-yards out, with both teams battling for possession.
Shawnee’s Claire Huff gained control and fed Ridenour, who chipped it home just under the crossbar, from 12-yards out, for the only score of the match at the 7:33 mark.
“When Kennedy hit it, I was just hoping someone would hit it in,” Ridenour said. “Then, it came right to me and I hit it in. But thanks to everyone else who worked hard to get it there.’’
Wapakoneta would have several more quality shots, but O’Connor stopped several in the final minutes.
One time O’Connor came out of the goal for a save and Mason had to make a kick save near the goal line with one minute left.
“It was intense,” Mason said.
Both teams had 10 shots on goal.
Wapakoneta goalkeeper Corrine Raney had three saves.
Shawnee led the corner kicks, 3-1.
Both teams powered through a muggy, 92-degree night.
“We weren’t thinking about the heat,” Ridenour said. “We were just thinking about the game. We’ve had a lot of hot practices. We were hot, but we pushed through it.’’
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