FINDLAY — The rain was steady and the field was soggy.
But Ottawa Hills seemed to glide its way up and down the field.
Ottawa Hills found a way across the muddy field to post a 3-0 victory against Kalida in the Division III boys soccer regional semifinals Wednesday night at Findlay High School.
Ottawa Hills led 3-0 at the half and held that lead through the elements.
“They were as good as advertised,” Kalida coach Mark Czubik said. “They are a good overall team. You can tell their kids play a lot of soccer and we knew it was going to be a tough match going in. We really wanted to keep the game close and it kind of got away from us early.’’
Ottawa Hills (16-2-2) advances to the regional finals against Bluffton on Saturday at a time and a site to be named.
Kalida ends its season 14-5-1.
High-powered Ottawa Hills has scored 103 goals this season and given up only 12.
It was more of the same of power offense and great goaltending Wednesday.
“Their kids have great skill and composure on the ball,” Czubik said.
John Kight scored two goals for the Green Bears to give him 36 on the season.
Iggy Garcia-Mata scored the first goal for Ottawa Hills.
Green Bears goalkeeper Graham Tunis had six saves for his 11th shutout of the season.
Kalida goalkeeper Brayden Recker had 13 saves.
Ottawa Hills, which controlled the midfield most of the match, outshot Kalida 21-6.
“That’s definitely one of our strong suits (possessing the ball), and we knew it would be tough in the harsh conditions,” John Kight said. “It was super slippery.’’
The Green Bears had 10 corner kicks, while Kalida had three.
Ottawa Hills came out fast in spite of the wet conditions.
The Green Bears went on the attack and began playing the ball to the corners and crossing into the box.
With 35:35 left in the first half, Garcia-Mata took a free kick from 25-yards out.
The rising, line-drive shot nicked the top of a Kalida player’s head on the defensive line 10-yards away from Mata.
But the ball stayed on line and landed just under the crossbar and into the net.
That gave the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Ottawa Hills’ second goal also came off a free kick by Garcia-Mata.
The direct kick flew into the box and was headed by Walker Kight to his brother John Kight, who drilled a laser into the net from 12-yards out.
That gave the Green Bears a 2-0 lead with 32:54 left in the first half.
Kalida moved from its defensive-first approach to an offensive attack.
Czubik moved sweeper Evan Roebke to forward to join Gabe Hovest and the Wildcats’ offense instantly got an energy boost.
With eight minutes left in the half, Kalida got two quick shots on goal inside the box.
Tunis made a diving save, then a tip save to stop down the Kalida attack.
Five minutes later, with three minutes left in the half, Hovest and Roebke again had back-to-back shots in the box.
And again it was Tunis who turned both shots away with saves.
The Green Bears seemed to feed off the stops and with 1:00 left in the half John Kight scored to make it 3-0.
Garcia-Mata took a corner kick and Kight was there to one-time a toe shot into the net.
“That goal gave us confidence going into the half with these conditions,” Ottawa Hills coach Nate Baer said. “I think that meant a lot for us.’’
Czubik said, “I think the third goal really put a damper on things. It’s tough when you’re playing against a team like that to score three goals. You’re really climbing a pretty tall wall.’’
John Kight said, “He (Walker Kight) headed it to me, and I was in the right place at the right time, and I was looking for the far post.’’
Czubik thought his team battled well in the scoreless second half.
“We told them to go out and try to win the second half and compete, and I think they did exactly what we asked them to do and I’m very proud of the kids,” Czubik said.
Ottawa Hills won the state title in 2008 and lost in the state finals in 2017.
“We got to the state finals two years ago and we’re looking for revenge and looking to get back,” John Kight said.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.