Oak Harbor's run ends in the state semifinal

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and sadly Oak Harbor found that out Tuesday night as Gates Mills Hawken defeated the Rockets, 4-1, in a Division III State Semifinal at Cedar Point Stadium in Sandusky.

Throughout much of the match, the Hawks (16-1-5) utilized their speed and were able to consistently push the ball into the Oak Harbor zone, scoring two goals in each half to take a 2-0 before the Rockets rallied to cut the deficit in half on a goal by Alexa Weis with 12:10 remaining in the first half.

In the second frame, Hawken scored twice, at 32:29 and 19:30, to put the match away. Oak Harbor (19-2-1) had two chances to tie it early in the second half, but Amanda Hetrick's free kick from about 50 feet out was grabbed by the goalkeeper and Emma Barney's straightaway shot from roughly 35 feet away sailed just over the crossbar. From that point forward, the Hawks were able to move the ball and got off a number of shots. Had it not been for the play of goalkeeper Ivy Martin and an opportunistic defense, Hawken could've easily scored 7-8 goals.

The Hawks, who lost in the state semifinal last year, will play the winner of Hamilton Badin High and Middletown Bishop Fenwick.

"(Hawken) was faster than us," Oak Harbor head coach Renee Goldstein said. "They won the 50-50 balls (and) I think our girls played a little conservative. It's disappointing (to lose), but I'm proud of the girls. How can you not be proud? We had a great season and we (were) the last public school in the tournament." 

Photo by Bill Migala

It was the best season for a program, now in its 11th season, that has been incredibly dominant. Winners of six consecutive Sandusky Bay Conference titles, the Rockets had made it to the district final in five of the last 10 years before finally getting over the hump with a 5-0 victory over Woodmore on Oct. 26. 

"All season, our goal was to make it to the state final after losing in the state semifinal last season," said Hawken head coach Stan Shulman. "We knew Oak Harbor was very good offensively and we felt that if we could limit them (on that end), we'd be able to score some goals. But their goalie was amazing, she's a very nice player. They're a very young team and they will do well (in the future)."

Sadly, this was the final game for three seniors, Hetrick, Hannah Hess and Nikki Weis, three girls that have been instrumental in helping to lift the team to new heights.

"One of our goals was to get past districts because (the program) had never gotten this far," said Barney, who assisted on Weis goal and was named the SBC Player of the Year for her efforts this season. "We have a lot of mixed emotions right now, but we're very happy with what we did. This was a really good season and we should be proud of this."

Photo by Bill Migala

It was a special experience for the Benton-Carroll-Salem community, one that has seen few teams advance this far in tournament play before. Oak Harbor has never had a team win a state championship, though the wrestling program has two second-place finishes (2008, '10), the boys basketball team was the runner up in 1983 and the football team advanced to the Final Four twice in '99 and '06. As they have throughout the tournament, the fans came out to support their Rockets.

"Our parents have been there along the way," said Goldstein. "The community has been great — people were very supportive and had so many signs made. And I have some girls that played for me before that are here. I think we represented the community well. It's great to be from a small town because this is what you get (from people)."

On the bright side, with all but three players returning to the team next year, the future looks quite promising.

"I'm ready for everything good that will come our way," Barney said.

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Photo by Bill Migala

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