OTTOVILLE — Ottoville’s head coach Doug German preaches defense and his team practiced it to hold off a determined Columbus Grove squad, 2-1, to capture the Division III sectional title Thursday.
Ottoville improves to 11-4-2 overall and advances to the district semifinals against Coldwater, a 4-1 winner against Delphos St. John’s. Columbus Grove ends its year with an 8-7-3 mark.
Because the two teams had battled to a 1-1 tie Oct. 10 the two coaches knew it was going to be a hard fought affair.
“Columbus Grove is one tough team,” German said. “This was two teams that just want to win everything. You could see the determination on both teams.”
Columbus Grove came out as the aggressor in the first half and despite an onslaught of scoring chances the Big Green defense withstood the Bulldog surges to keep them scoreless in the first half.
Despite controlling the ball for most of the first half, Columbus Grove became the victim of Ottoville’s quick strike attack when Alyson Saxton fired a shot just outside the box that glanced off Columbus Grove goalie Gwen Langhals with about six minutes gone in the game in one of the few scoring chances for the Big Green in the first 40 minutes.
In that first half, Columbus Grove had five corner kicks and a couple of near misses including one that glanced off the top of the post.
“We knew we had to be aggressive at the beginning, Columbus Grove head coach Chris Halker said. “We played them a few weeks ago and couldn’t finish, and we knew if we had the chances we hoped to put it in but didn’t want to fall for us.”
Credit Shayla German along with Gabby Metzger who spearheaded the Big Green defense.
“We preach our defense. We preach our defense. We preach our defense and is a strong point on our team. We preach and preach and preach that we have to protect that goal. You saw Grove pound it on us, and they didn’t get it to the goalie that many times so we got to it before it got to her.”
Ottoville upped its lead to 2-0 early in the second half when Ottoville came out determined to score another goal, and it paid off when Saxton struck again. This time the junior midfielder broke free on the left side of the Bulldog goal and then shot one into the net with 35:20 minutes left in the game.
“We got the luck one in first and got a little momentum and got the next one and that gave us a little bit of breathing room,” German said.
Despite down 2-0, the Bulldogs ramped up their efforts and cut the lead in half about nine minutes later when Savannah Ridenour blasted one from about 30 yards out that got over Ottoville keeper Skyla Turnwald’s outstretched hands for the score.
With that goal Columbus Grove’s attack continued but once again the Big Green defense weathered a number of Bulldog scoring opportunities down to the final minute when Langhals had to make one last save to preserve the victory with about 40 seconds left in the contest.
“We hoped we would wear them down because the last time we tired them out at the end and had the opportunities the last couple of minutes but it went off the post again and went wide, and we couldn’t get those last few to go in,” Halker said. “It was a good game.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.