ANNA — Lehman Catholic’s long reign as Western Ohio Soccer League girls champions ended earlier this month against Anna. The Cavaliers shouldn’t have felt too bad, though — they at least scored a goal against Anna, which no else had.
The Rockets went 15-0 and 8-0 in the WOSL to capture the league title and are the No. 1 seed in the Dayton Division III sectional. Anna opens tournament play on Thursday against No. 19 Indian Lake (6-9-1) and is hoping for a long postseason run.
One potential obstacle to a long playoff run? Lehman. If Anna and the No. 3 seed Cavaliers win their first two playoff games, they’ll face each other in a district final on Oct. 26.
“We’re going to keep our practices intense,” senior Abby Gaydosh said. “We’re going to keep pushing ourselves. As the leaders of the team, we’ve got to make sure the younger kids are still keeping it up.”
If the regular season is any indication, the Rockets could be playing for a long time. Their 2-1 win over Lehman on Oct. 5 and 1-0 win over West Liberty-Salem a few days before were the only real close matches. They won every other match at least 3-0 and ran by most teams.
Anna went 14-3-2 last season and finished second in the WOSL with a 6-1 record. Senior Emily Albers said the team is much improved under first-year coach Mike Noll, and not just in on-field play.
“I feel like our teamwork has gotten a lot better since last year,” Albers said. “With Mike being our coach, every one has seemed to get along a lot better compared to last year. I just feel our teamwork has improved greatly. We’re talking a lot more.”
Sophomore Taylor Noll has led Anna’s high-powered offense with 38 goals this season. The Rockets have had a shutdown defense, led by sophomore goalkeeper Savanna Hostetler, who has 54 saves. The only other goal the team has allowed aside from Lehman came on Oct. 7 late in the game in a 15-1 win over Springfield Emmanuel Christian.
“I think we have a really good defense to keep us together,” senior Savanna Manger said. “Our passing has really improved from last year too. We play more as a team this year, as opposed to other years. This year we’ve really come together as a team.”
Lehman had won every WOSL title since the league formed in 2014 and had not lost a league game before playing Anna. Gaydosh said the win over the Cavaliers was the highlight of the senior’s careers.
“It was really nice,” Gaydosh said. “All the time we’ve been in high school, we’ve never beat Lehman, so being able to beat them our senior year was just so awesome. We’d wanted to do it for a long time.”
Senior Rylie Edwards says the team isn’t worrying about a rematch with Lehman until it wins its first two tournament games.
“We just have to keep up the hard work and not look ahead,” Edwards said. “We just have to focus on one game at a time and not get overconfident about stuff. Even if we think we can beat a team, we still have to take them just as seriously.”
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.