BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
MILLBURY — In a hard-fought match where the littlest of things could make the difference, Remi Gregory recovered a loose ball in front of the net to score with 17 seconds remaining to lead Oak Harbor to a 2-1 win over Wauseon in a Division II district championship at Lake Community Stadium.
With seconds remaining, the Rockets got a shot on goal that was saved by Indians goalkeeper Madison Strain. Hannah Schulte, who was about five feet from the goal, couldn’t quite control the ball off the save, but Gregory got the rebound and scored.
It is the second district title in three years for Oak Harbor, which improved to 14-3-3 while Wauseon finished the season with a 14-3-2 mark.
“It’s been an up-and-down season,” said Oak Harbor coach Renee Williamson, who has led the program to four district titles and one regional championship. “I think the girls realize that if we don’t win, we’re done. We told them to leave everything on the field because it could be their last game.”
Schulte scored on a high shot that cleared Strain with 30:06 to play, the 103rd goal of her career, but the Indians, ranked first in the Millbury District, responded with a goal by Abby Smith just 15 seconds later. Oak Harbor goalkeeper Ripley St. Clair leaped to make a great save off a free kick from about 40 yards out, but Smith was there for the recovery, getting within a few feet of the goal before scoring.
St. Clair was brilliant in goal yet again, nearly shutting out the Indians.
“We have great self-motivation,” she said. “There’s not a single person who doesn’t want to win.”
St. Clair does a fine job of calling out opposing players for her defense, something that could be the difference when a ball falls short of the net.
“I’m always making my teammates aware of the (opposing) players,” she said.
Williamson had high praise for her goalkeeper, who’s been a starter for four years.
“She’s so important for us. She has stepped up big again in the tournament,” said Williamson. “She is always communicating with her teammates and is always positive, which helps.”
There were a number of close calls for Oak Harbor, seeded second in the district, for the first 50 minutes, but Strain consistently held the Rockets in check for all but two shots. Lily DeTray and Effie Schulte, Hannah’s sister, as well as others, nearly scored on a number of occasions.
Hannah Schulte’s goal gave her 103 for her career, just four behind former Rocket great Erica Lipstraw.
Following a tough loss to Eastwood on October 12, Oak Harbor has defeated Clyde, Tiffin Columbian (sectional finals), Central Catholic (district semifinals) and now Wauseon by a combined 24-1.