Girls soccer: Continental, Miller City battle to 0-0 tie

CONTINENTAL — Coming into the contest against Miller City, Continental had won four straight with four shutouts. Miller City had won three straight with three shutouts so it is no surprise that the contest between these Putnam County Conference rivals ended 0-0 Saturday.

With the tie, Continental goes to 1-0-1 in the PCL and 7-5 overall. Miller City goes to 2-1-1 in league play and 8-3 for the year. Columbus Grove is the only other team in the PCL with an unbeaten record at 2-0.

“They are a really good team,” Continental head coach Tony Bidlack said. “We knew it was going to be a battle for us. We had a rough stretch earlier in the season and so we kind of feel we are building a little bit here and we knew this would be a good challenge for us and see how we are improving in the season.

As expected, defense dominated the game as the two teams played to a scoreless first half with scoring chances few and far between for either squad.

But in the second half, Miller City upped its offensive tempo and put the pressure on the Continental defense. The Wildcats nearly broke through on several shots but the Pirate defense and keeper Marissa Becher stood tall as she thwarted the Wildcat attacks with a number of big saves.

“We controlled the ball a lot in the second half,” Miller City head coach Kurt Rosengarten said. “We didn’t get the bounces that we should have got or just sometimes you need a little bit of luck for those balls to go in and we didn’t get it today.”

Perhaps the biggest came towards the end of the game when Becher sacrificed her body and dove in front of a Pirate shot with about six minutes left in the game.

Becher finished with 13 saves and her counterpart in the other goal, Liz Otto, had two on the day.

Miller City had 19 shots on goal and Continental had nine.

“We kind of got hunkered back on defense but credit our keeper,” Bidlack said. “Melissa made some big saves in the second half, especially that one on that cross where they had a player crashing hard like they are supposed to do. We knew it was going to be a bang-bang play for her to step in there with the courage, knowing she was going to get hit, was critical for us. She played a very nice game today and our back line helped. I was very proud of the defensive effort.”

While the Pirates were stymied offensively, Miller City did an outstanding job on the defensive side of the ball. The Pirates had two shots on goal in the first half and none in the second half.

“We were solid defensively,” Rosengarten said. “The ball maybe went on our half a couple of times so I don’t think they had a shot on goal. Defensively, we stepped up and we took the ball away from them at midfield but we couldn’t score a goal.”

The tie means Continental and Miller City are going to need a little help to secure the PCL title.

“We are going to need a lot of help,” Rosengarten said. “We have the one loss and the tie, and we need a lot of help from Ottoville, Kalida and Continental. There is a lot of parity in the PCL so a lot can still happen.”

“It’s a mixed bag,” Bidlack said. “It is not a loss but it is not a win but the things we are trying to accomplish are still alive and that is to win the league title and other stuff.”

Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.