SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Shawnee defender Lily Cleaves may have covered every inch of the Shawnee soccer field Tuesday night.
Her job was to shadow Bath’s 42-goal scorer Chandler Clark.
Cleaves, and her fellow defenders, held Clark in check to help Shawnee post a 2-1 victory over Bath to clinch the Western Buckeye League girls soccer championship at Shawnee.
“I’m so tired tonight,” Cleaves said. “She (Clark) is an excellent player and she was moving all the time. It was tough to keep up with her. …. I also had help from Madi (Mason) and Taylor (Morris).’’
It marked the first girls soccer WBL title for Shawnee since 2011.
The girls WBL title came just days after the Shawnee boys team clinched the WBL title.
Tessa Jordan and Sophia Fusillo scored for Shawnee. Alexis Hammonds scored for Bath.
Shawnee led 2-1 at the half and held off a furious Bath offensive attack in the second half.
Shawnee stands 11-3-2 and finished the WBL season 7-0-2 (23 points). Bath ended up 12-4, 6-3 (18 points).
Celina entered the night with 18 points and could only max out at 21 points with its 11-o victory against Van Wert.
Clark was everywhere in the second half, running both with and without the ball.
Several times she received the ball at the 12-to-15 yards from the goal, with her back to the goal. But right behind her were Cleaves and her fellow defenders Madi Mason and Taylor Morris.
That kept Clark from blasting away from the penalty mark and she passed it back out.
Clark finished with two shots.
“Chander Clark is a tremendous offensive player and we knew we were going to have to watch her (with Cleaves) all night,” Shawnee coach Caroline O’Brien said.
Bath coach Brooke Herr said her team has become used to teams marking Clark.
“I don’t that ever throws us too much because we know we have other options if they are willing to much too much focus on her,” Herr said.
Bath outshot Shawnee 9-8. Seven of Shawnee’s seven shots came in the first half.
“We did a good job possessing the ball in the first half,” O’Brien said. (In the second half), any time Clark had the ball we were concerned.’’
Shawnee scored first when midfielder Bri Ridenour played a ball ahead to Tessa Jordan.
Jordan dribbled into the box and fired a shot into the upper-left corner of the net with 29:38 left in the first half.
That gave Shawnee a 1-0 lead.
Bath tied it at 1 when Alexis Hammonds scored from the right edge of the 18-yard box on a laser into the upper half of the net.
That came with 18:10 left in the first half.
Shawnee took the lead to stay 2-1 when Kennedy Jensen slipped a pass to Sophia Fusillo, who delivered a shot from 16-yards out into the net.
That came with 14:36 left before halftime.
Bath appeared to tie the match at 2 with 35 minutes to go, but the goal was waved off for offsides.
Shawnee goalkeeper Kaelan Swallow had seven saves.
Bath goalkeeper Kyla Bailey made five saves.
Herr said the Bath focus now shifts to the tournament.
“The good thing coming away from this is we still control it (our fate in the tournament),” Herr said. “Hopefully, if we take anything away from this it’s that we’re that much hungrier.’’
O’Brien also praised Herr, her former player, for the progress Bath has made and how hard they played.
Shawnee veterans remember last year when the Indians started the year 6-0 in the WBL, but couldn’t bring home the league title.
“This means so much after last year,” Cleaves said. “We know what it felt like last year and we didn’t want to feel like that again.’’
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.