BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
PORT CLINTON — When Port Clinton challenged visiting Oak Harbor girls soccer team on Wednesday, Sept. 29, the Rockets answered the call and took control of their match to defeat the Redskins and clinch the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division title, 6-2.
Port Clinton (9-3, 3-2 SBC Bay) scored first when Alexis Spears put one in on a free kick midway thru the first half.
Just over one minute later, Oak Harbor’s Effie Schulte scored to tie it a 1-1. Her sister, Hannah, scored two more goals, the first coming with 11 minutes to play in the first half, and gave Oak Harbor (12-2-2, 8-0) the lead for good at 3-1.
Jade Mitchell scored for the ‘Skins to cut the deficit to one goal. The Rockets answered as Effie Schulte scored five minutes into the second half to give Oak Harbor a two-goal lead, and Hannah Schulte and Remi Gregory scored goals to increase the advantage.
“Our girls were so excited to play Port Clinton, so we could show everyone Oak Harbor is still an explosive team with a tremendous amount of talent,” said Oak Harbor coach Renee Williamson. “The girls did not think it would be easy, but they were pumped up the first game and it showed throughout the entire game.
The focus was to beat Port Clinton, playing strong, and making a statement,” said Williamson. “When we went to Port Clinton, we knew it would be a different game. Port Clinton has turf, we play on natural grass, which moves much slower than a game on turf.
“Coming into Port Clinton the girls again felt they needed to make a statement by coming home with a win. The game was physical, as they usually are, and our girls remained calm and controlled throughout. The girls know we will probably see Port Clinton again in the tournament.”
It is the third consecutive Bay Division title for the Rockets.
“It is always great to win the division title and winning three years in a row makes it even better. With the league improving every year, it has become more of a challenge, but our girls strive for this every year. At the beginning of the season we talked about who would be our biggest competition in the league for the year, and this year we felt it would be Port Clinton,” Williamson said.
“Oak Harbor has a long-standing history of winning the league, so winning for the third consecutive year has gotten us back on track. The league was established in 2008 and Oak Harbor has been outright champions 12 of those years, tied one year with Huron, and lost the title one year to Huron.”
Oak Harbor is the only team Port Clinton has lost to this season. The ‘Skins could get another chance to beat the Rockets in the postseason as both teams are in the same district.
Hannah Schultz had yet another hat trick for the Rockets.
“Once Hannah gets her first goal, she is usually going to follow with a few more. She is normally double or, in some games, triple-teamed to attempt to take away our scoring opportunities. Thankfully she is very versatile and we are able to move her to different positions to benefit the team,” Williamson said. “Hannah has worked hard in the offseason to enhance her skills and I feel that it shows this year.”
Schulte is part of a special group of seniors that have led the team to three league titles and a district championship. The list includes Schulte, Remi Gregory, Emma Baumgartner, Katie May, Kori Helle, Amelia Mizelle, Ripley St. Clair, Kaley Daniel, Maggie Puckett, Ally Garner and Cienna Heineman.
“This senior class has been fun to coach throughout the years. Many of them have been with the varsity team for all four of these years and have proven to be a solid group of girls since day one. When someone on the team gets down on themselves, these girls find a way to bring them back up. It’s not just our seniors, either. Our bench is constantly encouraging the girls and ensuring the girls know what’s happening around them on the field. The players on the sidelines get as excited as the girls on the field at any given time. It’s fun to coach a team when they support everyone and know and understand their role on the team.”