SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP – Celina’s Reilly Cox is a sharpshooter on corner kicks.
Throw in a little luck with her strong right foot and it was scoring combination.
Cox had a goal and an assist off two corner kicks to power Celina to a 2-1 victory over Shawnee in a Division II girls soccer sectional final Thursday.
Shawnee led 1-0 at the half before Celina converted two second-half goals off the corner kicks.
“We’re not a first-half team,” Cox said. “In the second half, we had to get fired up. We knew we beat this team once so we knew we had to do it again.’’
Celina (11-4-3) advances to the district semifinals against Wapakoneta at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Elida.
Shawnee ends its season 12-4-1.
Celina defeated Shawnee 1-0 late in the year in the regular-season matchup.
This time Shawnee dominated possession in the first half and took a 1-0 lead off a corner kick by Rachel Russ.
The ball found the goal box and a huge scrum of players swatted for the ball.
Finally, the ball found the right foot of Sophia Fusillo, who pounded it into the net from 5-yards out.
That gave Shawnee a 1-0 lead with 9:49 left before halftime.
Celina came out in the second half with more energy and began connecting on its passes through the midfield. It also did a better job of playing the ball wide to the corners and crossing the ball into the box.
Then, the left-footed Cox lined up for a corner kick out of the right corner.
She sent the ball at the right post and it just turned the corner around the post and the crossbar and found the net in the upper-right corner.
That tied the match at 1 with 31:44 to play.
Cox said it wasn’t her idea to score off the kick.
“I wasn’t going for it,” Cox admitted. “I was so surprised. I called for someone at the top of the 18 and she was going to make a run (to the post). It just happened.’’
Added Celina coach Eric Gerker, “We’ve had a lot of success off corners this year. I think the first one was lucky, very lucky, but that’s what sparked us. We were playing very, very tentative in the first half and they were getting corner kick after corner kick and they kept the pressure on our end.
“We kind of re-grouped at halftime. … We started attacking the corners and did a good job of earning corners.’’
Cox took another corner 10 minutes later from the same spot in the right corner.
The ball found the goal box, but popped out back to Cox at the edge of the 18-yard box.
Cox then fed a pass to Carley Eichler at the edge of the goal box. Eichler knocked it home from 7-yards out.
“I was just glad Carly was there,” Cox said. “She just placed it where it needed to go.’’
That gave Celina the 2-1 lead with 21:57 to go.
“Reilly Cox has great placement on set pieces,” Shawnee coach Caroline O’Brien said. “From that side, she has great range and accuracy on her kicks.’’
Shawnee’s best chance down the stretch came off a free kick from Madi Mason from 25-yards out with 2:30 to go.
Mason hit a laser, which appeared headed just under the crossbar and into the net.
But Celina goalkeeper Kennedy Henry leaped as high as she could and tipped the ball over the top of the crossbar.
Henry had two saves on the night.
Shawnee goalkeeper Grace O’Connor had two saves.
Both teams had five shots.
Shawnee had nine corner kicks, while Celina had four.
Celina and Shawnee were both solid in the back end.
Mason again solidified the Shawnee back defensive line.
Celina was led in the back by Nicole Fennig, who stopped two Shawnee breakaways.
“We did a good job staying in front of them in the second half,” Gerker said.
It was a tough end to the season for Shawnee, which started the year 12-0.
Shawnee loses three senior starters, midfielder Russ, goalkeeper O’Connor and defender Samantha Robertson.
The Indians also started four freshmen.
“We’ll build on this loss and we’ll be ready to come out next year,” O’Brien said. “They’re kids. They’ll bounce back. They’ll come back out tougher.’’
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