SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Shawnee was nearly perfect.
And that’s what it took to keep the Indians unbeaten.
Shawnee played a complete game, front to back, to post a 1-0 victory against Elida in a girls soccer match Thursday night.
Shawnee’s Sophia Fusillo scored off a free kick by Madi Mason with 22:05 to play.
It marked Shawnee’s first victory over Elida in girls soccer in four years.
Shawnee is 12-0, 6-0 in the Western Buckeye League (18 points).
Elida is 8-2-1 (4-2-1 WBL) with 13 points.
“I knew it was going to be a 1-nil game,” Elida coach Elise Jenkins said. “I knew whoever got the goal first was probably going to come out with the win.’’
The junior Mason again anchored the Shawnee back line, which included freshman Zoe Ludwig, freshman Lilly Cleaves and senior Samantha Robertson.
“I thought the kids did a great job, defensively, responding to try to cut off (Elida’s Jency) Jenkins and Cienna Kuhn, and really trying to wear them down,” Shawnee coach Caroline O’Brien said. “It was great, quality soccer and we had a great crowd here tonight.’’
Mason also had a huge part in the offense.
Mason took a free kick from 40-yards out and sent it into the heart of the box.
The ball took a bounce and Fusillo flicked in a one-timer from 10-yards out.
That was the only goal of the match with 22:05 to play.
“I wanted to chip it into the heart of the box and I knew her (Fusillo) and Tessa (Jordan) would be there,” Mason said.
Fusillo added, “It was in the moment and fast. Everyone worked hard it.’’
O’Brien liked the way the play turned out on Mason’s free kick.
“With the ground conditions and the ball bouncing around a little bit, we got a lucky look at it, which is awesome,” O’Brien said. “We’ll take it.’’
Shawnee had plenty of quality chances to score more, but Elida sophomore goalkeeper Erika Suever made five outstanding diving saves to turn the Indians away.
“How many great saves did she have?” Jenkins said.
Suever had six saves.
Indians goalkeeper Grace O’Connor played well in her goal and had three saves for her 11th shutout of the year.
“I think this is the strongest defense we’ve had in a while,” Mason said.
Shawnee outshot Elida 7-3.
Shawnee had the corner-kick edge 2-1.
Shawnee played without starting midfielder Bri Ridenour (knee), who scored the game-winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Wapakoneta.
Elida and Shawnee took turns controlling possession, as the game went back-and-forth the entire way.
Shawnee seemed to take momentum after the goal, but Elida pushed everyone forward in the final seven minutes.
And while Elida swarmed the Shawnee end, the Bulldogs didn’t get any big shots at the net down the stretch.
“I knew it was going to be a roller-coaster, but I can’t say enough about the effort that my team gave tonight,” Jenkins said.
Most of the Elida surges were turned away by Mason and her fellow defenders.
Mason made sure Elida all-WBL scorer Jency Jenkins wouldn’t get loose.
“I wanted to keep her more contained in the corner,” Mason said. “And I didn’t want her to get any breakaways.’’
Reach The Lima News at 567-242-0451.