PLEASANT HILL — Anna’s mission in a Division III sectional final was to get an early lead and have all players healthy at the end of the game — something that didn’t happen last year.
Mission accomplished. Taylor Noll scored three goals to help Anna earn a 4-0 victory at Newton High School on Tuesday, which advances the team to a district final on Saturday.
Anna junior goal keeper Savanna Hostetler was injured in a sectional final last year after receiving a kick to the head and missed the team’s district final.
Soon after the Rockets scored their fourth goal early in the second half on Tuesday, most starters were pulled.
“When we got up four, we stuck all the freshmen in and pulled all the other girls out,” Anna coach Mike Noll said. “We didn’t want to have issues. …No reason to get anybody hurt. That was in the back of our mind from last year. That was a strong run, and to have something like happen that hurt. We had all of our subs in those last 20 minutes to get them some playing time and keep our girls healthy for the next one”
The Rockets (16-0-2) advance to face the Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in a district final on Saturday at Beavercreek High School. CHCA (11-6-0) beat Seven Hills 3-0 in a sectional final on Tuesday.
“These girls want it bad this year,” Noll said. “I think if they stay focused, it will not be an issue.”
Anna beat the Rams 6-0 in a road nonconference game on Aug. 25 and had about as easy of a time on Tuesday. Anna possessed the ball the vast majority of the game as Miami Valley struggled to move the ball near the goal. The Rockets outshot Miami Valley 13-1 unofficially.
“The field was in a little better shape because it was on turf compared to tonight, so we moved a little bit faster,” Noll said of the team’s first matchup. “The field was a little rougher (tonight), but we played fine. …Once we started out and got the jitters out and settled in and get ball to feet, game’s on.”
Anna took a 3-0 lead in a 10-minute span in the first half.
Noll scored on a breakaway with 25:23 left. She dribbled up to the right side of the goal several minutes later and drew several defenders, then passed to Breonna Tribbett on the left side, who scored against an undefended goal.
Noll scored with 15:32 left after driving up the middle, which drew Miami Valley goalie Deena Green out of the box. Green dove and tried to scoop up the ball but failed, and Noll sent a shot into the net to put Anna ahead 3-0.
Noll scored her third goal on an assist from MacKensie Littlefield early in the second half. Littlefield dribbled behind the right side of the net and passed to Noll, who sent a soft deflection past Green and into the net.
When the Rams got the ball near Anna’s goal a couple of times in the first half, the Rockets quickly moved it out.
“Our midfielders control the ball quite a bit and it gives defense plenty of rest, so when they’re needed, they’re there,” Noll said. “Our defense is probably one of the fastest in the (Western Ohio Soccer) League.
Miami Valley finishes 10-7-1.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.