OTTOVILLE — It was a tale of two halves during Saturday afternoon’s Division III girls soccer district finals between Lima Central Catholic and Kalida.
The Wildcats won the first half, leading 1-0 at the half on a windy, wet and chilly day.
The Thunderbirds owned the second half and went on to a 3-1 victory.
LCC (12-5-1) moves on to play Archbold at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Napoleon.
“We had a definite ‘pep’ talk at halftime. I had their attention,” LCC head coach Mike Santaguida said. “I told them that Kalida had wanted it more than we did the first half – perhaps we had let the weather and field bother us a bit too much - but we were only down a goal. We came out from halftime and just wanted it more. We hadn’t won a lot of 50/50 balls the first half but we started to win many more of them the second half.”
Kalida head coach Dave Kehres felt disappointed for his three seniors playing their final game.
“No matter when your season comes to an end, you always want one more game. This team has improved so much,” Kehres said. “We started out 0-2 and 1-3 and turned it around from there. We have lost to some fine teams: LCC twice, Archbold. We feel out schedule prepares us for games and moments like this. We won the first half but LCC capitalized on their opportunities the second half. I’m proud of our girls for what they’ve done this year. This group of seniors has played in three District finals in their four years with the program and they will be missed.”
The Kalida (13-5-1) defense had controlled the fast LCC lineup in the first half, outshooting them 4-1 and leading to that 1-0 lead.
LCC turned things around the second half, allowing its offense to get back on track.
They needed nine minutes to equalize things.
At 31:00, Avery Rice took advantage in front of the goal as Kalida goalkeeper Bailey White (3 saves versus 6 shots on-goal) let the ball slip through her fingers and fell down as she tried to control it. That left the senior T-Bird all lone to put in a 10-yard goal to tie it at 1-1.
LCC kept the ball in its offensive half of the pitch and finally took the lead at 17:15. With Rice launching a corner kick from the left side, the ball appeared to hit off a Wildcat defender and it eluded White and went into the goal for a 2-1 lead.
At 15:14, Rice finished off her hat trick. She let loose from 20 yards on the left wing and curled the ball past the goalkeeper and into the right side of the net for a 3-1 lead.
Kalida, with time running out for a comeback, tried to answer. They had four chances to try and retaliate.
At 14:50, Brenna Smith’s 16-yarder was turned back by LCC goalkeeper Kitt Siatkosky (seven saves versus nine shots on-goal).
At 5:24, Smith tried to curl a free kick from well out on the right side but Siatkosky knocked the ball away.
At 3:55, Abby Wurth’s 12-yarder hit off the crossbar and on the ricochet, Madison Langhals was denied by Siatkosky from 10 yards.
“We have tried to build our team around being a family. The seven seniors we have on this team have taken the younger players under their wing and introduced them to that from the start,” Santaguida said. “I know when our season does end, we will miss these seniors immensely but we don’t have to think about that yet. We’re going to the Regionals against a fine team in Archbold. We scrimmaged them for a half before the season and it was 0-0. I had a chance to scout them earlier.”
The Wildcats’ defense did a great job of limiting LCC’s chances in their offensive end the first half and was able to finally get the lead.
They outshot the Thunderbirds 5-2 in the first half – with LCC’s shots coming from Jessica Wilker at 18:30 and from Rice at 16:14, both denied by White.
White even had to come out for nearly seven minutes after being injured on a collision when she had come out of her box to defend a deep ball, with Mya Schmitz taking over in goal but facing no shots.
“We’re confident in our goalkeepers. We work with them all the time during practice, just for situations like this,” Kehres said. “We had a good season, especially considering the way we started. We have a lot of girls that we will have back but you can never say you know how you will do in any given year because of injuries and things like that. They will have to work hard on their games for us to continue to have the success we have had.”
Finally, with 54 seconds to go in the half, Kalida’s Rachael Basinger dribbled the ball down the right post line and the goalkeeper came out to try and stop her. Basinger beat Siatkosky from 16 yards to the left side for a 1-0 lead at the half.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.