OTTOVILLE – Lima Central Catholic girls head soccer coach Mike Santaguida knew there were some voids to fill after losing a strong group of seniors from last year’s Division III regional semifinal team.
In Saturday’s season opener with Ottoville, Santaguida received some help from a couple returners, as LCC defeated Ottoville 4-1 at the Ottoville Sports Complex.
Senior Sophia Santaguida and sophomore Annika Wilker each scored two goals to help lead the T-Birds to the victory.
“We lost seven seniors from last year,” Coach Santaguida said. “So, we got a lot of rebuilding to do. There is room for improvement. We’re getting our marks and dropping when we need to. I was really impressed with the defense, today.”
Sophomore Alyson Saxton scored Ottoville’s lone goal, which did not come until the 21:51 mark of the second half.
It didn’t take long for LCC to claim the lead.
Less than 3 ½ minutes into the contest, Santaguida drove a shot from nearly 20 yards out that sailed over Ottoville goalkeeper Skylar Turnwald (two saves) for the first goal of the game.
LCC tacked on another goal with 29 seconds left to play in the half, on a shot near the goal from Wilker, giving the T-Birds the 2-0 lead, heading into intermission.
“When you get down 2-0 in a soccer game, that’s like 20 points in a basketball game. … But you can’t give up,” Ottoville coach Doug German said.
The T-Birds extended their lead to 3-0, less than 10 minutes into the second half on Santaguida’s second goal of the day. Santaguida got a shot off near the goal to give her team the three-goal cushion.
LCC wasn’t done.
At the 24:44 mark, Wilker found a seam on the left side of the box and drove it home to give the T-Birds a comfortable 4-0 advantage.
“My two center-mids (Wilker and Santaguida) are working wonderful together; and when they do connect with each other, they’re just going right down the field,” Coach Santaguida said. “Up top, we have a lot of speed. We couldn’t use it a whole lot today, because their back line was dropping so far. So, we just had to connect a little bit and put the ball in the middle.”
For the game, Ottoville actually had more shots on goal (seven) than LCC (six).
“Basically, our defense faltered,” German said. “We got caught up in the game. We didn’t man our positions like we should have, but I thought we played a good
game. We had our ups and downs. Our girls played at times, unstoppable and at times, we got caught up in the moment.”
LCC goalkeeper Kitt Siatkosky had four saves on the day.
“We passed the ball right down the field; and when we do that, we will get great scoring opportunities,” Coach Santaguida said. “I think we marked up pretty well today and most of the balls, we won.”
Added German, “LCC has a good squad. We had some of our girls out today, but they gave it their all. We had to switch them in and out the best that we could.”