BY PHIL WHEELER
The Port Clinton girls soccer team has had a ball this fall as it roll into the state soccer tournament. The Lady Redskins posted a 14-2 record during the regular season, losing only to their nemesis, Oak Harbor, 6-2.
Outscoring their opponents by almost four goals per game, they finished second in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.
Last Thursday, the team gathered at Ala Carte Cafe in Port Clinton for a sendoff dinner before the big game on Saturday at Maumee High School. The tacos and Gatorade provided by Ala Carte were plentiful, and the team enjoyed a great time together. It was obvious that they all genuinely like coach Paco Romero and each other.
The success of the U.S. Women’s National Team has spawned an uptick of interest for girls soccer (called football everywhere else) in the United States, with the sport settling in behind only American football, baseball and basketball in nearly all statistical measures of popularity.
As can be attested to by the solid community support for the Lady Redskins, soccer is fun to play and fun to watch.
Romero has been coaching both boys and girls soccer at Port Clinton High School for 20 years, and said that this is the best girls team he has coached.
“We have a great senior class,” said Romero. “We have great leaders, and our work ethic is strong.” The team is split between mostly seniors and sophomores. They play a short passing game, more of a South American style. But they are flexible, playing both the long and short ball when needed.
Paige Cuevas is a senior co-captain, and an example of that ability to adapt and change. During the teams second scrimmage her knee was hit from the side, and she sustained micro-fractures of her femur. Wearing a brace, she is back playing every position on the team.
“I am very proud of this team. We have come a long way,” said Cuevas. “From the freshman on up, they have all evolved, changed. They put in the work.”
The team is lead by its five senior captains. Paeja Leow is normally a mid-fielder, but she is now playing up front because of her ability to get the ball to the right person at the right place and time.
Said Leow, “We needed someone up there that can distribute the ball.” Katenna Fillmore plays midfield. “I play in the middle,” said Fillmore. “I distribute the ball, that’s what I do.” Rebekah Nehls is strictly a defender. “I like Julie Ertz, (U.S. Women’s Team mid-fielder). She is great,” said Nehls. Last, but not least, is Brooke Martinez. She plays all the field positions, and said “I’m versatile, that’s what I do.”
There is a theme here – unselfish play.
In Ohio, every team has the chance to play in the tournament regardless of their record. The teams are seeded, and the higher ranking team is designated as “Home Team.” Last Saturday, the Lady Redskins played host to a sectional game against a 2-10-1 squad from Maumee High School, a team whose record belies their quality. They are a Division II team playing in the tough Division I Northern Lakes League against such state-ranked teams as Anthony Wayne and Perrysburg.
The Lady Redskins dominated time of possession in the first half, out-shooting the visitors 7-1, but Maumee’s goalkeeper proved up to the task and the score was 0-0 at the half. In the second half, it was more of the same until the 14th minute, when a foul in the box lead to a penalty kick by Maumee freshman Evelyn Boyett, who slotted it past Port Clinton’s goalkeeper.
That proved to be the game winner for Maumee, as they held on to win 1-0.
It was a tough loss, but congratulations on a great season, and good luck next year.