KETTERING — Some may have thought this would be a rebuilding year for the Lehman Catholic girls soccer team.
Lehman coach Jeremy Lorenzo knew re-loading would be the better term.
And in the end, Lorenzo proved to be correct.
Lehman returned to the Division III regional semifinals after two straight district runner-up seasons before a season-ending 1-0 loss to Madeira on Tuesday at Fairmont High School.
“There were some people who thought this would be a rebuilding year for us,” Lorenzo said. “There were some bumps in the road. But, at the end of the season, we were playing our best soccer.”
Which allowed them to go toe-to-toe with a Madeira program that has a strong tradition.
“Madeira was in the regional finals last year and lost in overtime,” Lorenzo said. “And they had everybody back this year. That is a really strong team.”
Lehman had lost to them 2-0 in the first game of the season. This game was much closer. But, scoring on the Lady Amazons is no easy task.
“Madeira has one of the best defenses in the state,” Lorenzo said. “It is really tough to score on them — and it is even tougher when you get down to them early.”
Which is exactly the position Lehman found themselves Tuesday night.
Most of Madeira’s scoring opportunities came in the early going — seven of the Amazons nine shots came in the first half — and while a couple ricocheted off the crossbar, Natalie Heisser was able to find the net from short range after Lehman was unable to clear the ball with 24:30 remaining in the first half.
“They had a couple other opportunities to score,” Lorenzo said. “But, the goal they got was probably a mistake on our part. But, teams that win these games are teams that take advantage of the other team’s mistake.”
Two of Lehman’s three shots came in the first half as well.
And, while Lehman didn’t give Madeira few chances at the offensive end in the second half, the Cavaliers struggled to mount a serious run of their own against the Amazon defense.
The best opportunity came in the closing minutes, when Molly Safreed sent a ball down towards the box. Lehman had several touches inside the box, but could never get off a good shot and time eventually ran out on the season.
“That (the Safreed ball) was one of the few where we were able to get the ball through (their defense),” Lorenzo said.
He lamented not having midfielder Carly Edwards.
“She came down with concussion symptoms after the Anna game,” Lorenzo said about Lehman’s district final win. “Teams that win these games are healthy and playing their best soccer. It would have been nice to have her out there, but that is not an excuse.”
It was the final game for seniors Camille Brown, Grace Dexter, Abby Jones, Molly Safreed, Claire Schmiesing and Amanda Titterington.
They won two district titles and four sectional titles.
“They were a great group and we are going to miss them,” Lorenzo said. “They accomplished a lot (in their four years). But, we always have a new group of players coming in.”
And you can be sure Lehman will continue the tradition of re-loading — not rebuilding.
Rob Kiser is the sports editor if the Piqua Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.