Saturday’s Southwestern Conference championship game was a tough enough assignment for the Westlake girls soccer team.
Brecksville came to Reed Field with an overall record of 10-1-2 and an undefeated SWC mark of 6-0. The Bees were voted the top seed in the upcoming Division I Kent district tournament and had received votes in the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association poll.
Throw in dealing with a stiff wind from the west in the second half, and the task became even tougher for the Demons.
When it was all said and done, the Bees made a first-half goal stand to claim the 1-0 victory and the SWC championship.
“They’re a good team,” said Westlake head coach Scott Jones. “It was two good teams, and one of them won 1-0.
“The wind was a huge factor for us in the second half,” Jones said. “And I think we lost a little bit of our composure. We panicked a little bit. We wanted this pretty bad, and we were down 1-0 after putting all that pressure on them in the first half.
“It would be interesting to play with no wind and see what would happen for both teams. But they did what they needed to do. They dodged the storm in the first half and with the wind, they were able to control the second half pretty well,” he added.
Brecksville got the only goal it needed in the 28th minute. On just its second scoring opportunity of the half, the Bees were able to cash in with Westlake keeper Alexis Carpenter pulled away from the crease. Carpenter had to come out to stop an attempt, deflecting the ball away.
Unfortunately for Carpenter, the ball bounced right to the Bees’ Sarah Sivic. The Demon sophomore tried in vain to recover, but Sivic was able to send the ball just over her outstretched hands for a 1-0 advantage with 12:48 left in the half.
Prior to that, Westlake had used the wind advantage to keep pressure on the Brecksville defense and keeper Jena Lopez. The Demons kept up that pressure following the goal and had several near misses in the final minutes of the half. Megan Konrad had one of the better shots in the 32nd minute, but Lopez made a diving stop to her left.
As the half ended, Lopez had held her ground and the Bees held the 1-0 lead.
Lopez didn’t have much to do in the second half, with the brutal wind now to her back. That allowed Brecksville to go on the attack and put considerable pressure on Carpenter. She had several big saves, two coming in one-on-one encounters with Brecksville’s speedy forward Jasmine Waugaman in the 33rd and 37th minutes.
“She’s been outstanding for us all season long, not just that second half,” Jones said of his keeper’s play.
“She’s made some big-time saves for us when she’s been called upon,” Jones said. “In the second part of the second half, we were pushing a lot of kids up just to try and get something going. That obviously left us pretty vulnerable to some attacks, and she came up big.”
With the loss, the Demons ended regular season play at 9-2-3 overall and 5-1-1 in the SWC. In holding the top seed in the Rocky River district, they’ll host the winner of the Midview-North Ridgeville game Sat., Oct. 22 at 3 p.m. at Reed Field.
“We just didn’t play our best half of soccer,” Jones said. “Their goal, it is what it is. But like I said, this was two really god teams who can both go pretty far in the state tournament.”
“The kids are playing hard, and we’re ready for next week,” he added.