KALIDA — One goal, some solid defense and plenty of rain helped Kalida capture the Division III district crown against Putnam County rival Ottoville 1-0 on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
With a steady downpour both teams knew that any type of score could be the difference and that is exactly what happened. Kalida’s Gabe Hovest buried a goal within the first five minutes of the game at the 4:21 mark and his tally would hold up to be the game winner.
With the win, Kalida (14-4-1) advances to regional semifinals Wednesday against Ottawa-Hills at a site yet to be determined. Ottoville ends its year at 16-2-1 with its only two defeats coming at the hands of Kalida. Coincidentally 1-0 was the same score Kalida beat Ottoville earlier in the year.
Kalida head coach Mark Czubik reiterated to his team that it was important to get the first goal with the constant downpour.
“You just don’t know how things are going to go and obviously with the field you could tell it started to deteriorate towards the end of the game,” Czubik said. “Our kids held strong and that has been my history and that is the way the season has gone. We did what we had to do to get the win and today was no different.”
Czubik added,”We talked about not only playing the opponent but playing the elements today,” Czubik said. “I told the kids ‘don’t get upset if you slip and fall because it is what it is. Just keep playing hard and keep working hard and good things will happen’ and we created a good opportunity in the game where we finished it off.”
Ottoville head coach Dustin Markward echoed his coaching counterpart’s sentiment concerning the early score and the poor weather.
“With conditions like today it only takes one mistake and that is what happened during the regular season and that was the same thing today,” Markward said. “I thought we outplayed them in the second half but we weren’t able to overcome it and like I said that one mistake is all it took that ended up deciding the game.”
After Hovest’s goal, the teams battled each other and the elements as both found the footing tough and the scoring chances even tougher to come by and while the slick field had something to do with it so did the the teams’ defenses.
With such an early goal Ottoville found itself pushing to gain the equalizer and had several opportunities late in the first half and a handful of chances in the second half but Kalida keeper Brayden Recker made key saves to preserve the shutout. This was Kalida’s 10th shutout of the year.
“We had our chances and there is no doubt about that,” Markward said. “We had chances and with the conditions like they were you have to take advantage of your chances and we were unable to do so. I have to credit our team. We gave a little more energy in the second half but with the conditions like they were it is hard to bounce back.”
Recker had plenty of help up front spearheaded by the efforts of Evan Roebke who was instrumental in turning back Ottoville scoring surges.
“I think to our credit I don’t think we gave them a whole lot either,” Czubik said. “I think it was a carbon copy of our first game against them this year where we scored early and took control of the game defensively. We stress defense at Kalida a lot and it is not only the defenders but the midfielders coming back. You have to tip your cap to all our kids today.”
Not to be outdone was the Ottoville defense that despite giving up the early score clamped down on Kalida the remainder of the game as Drew Fisher and Michael Burgei, along with keeper Kaiden Trentman, stymied a number of Kalida charges.
Markward knows it is a tough way to end a season but said this is something the Big Green will build on for the future.
“This season was a success in my opinion,” Markward said. “We played hard all season long and we had a lot of wins and only two losses. We are going to build from this and we lose some good seniors but hopefully the young players learned a lot from it and we will build from there and move on.”
The win marked Czubik’s 400th career win but he said this win was all about the kids.
“It is a special moment, for me and means I’ve stuck around for a long time and had a lot of success but it is about the kids. Czubik said. “They worked extremely hard all year long.”