By Rob Kiser
MONROE — The journey ended too soon. But it was still another successful season for the Lehman Catholic girls soccer program.
Making their fourth straight trip to the Division 3 district finals — and in search of a fourth straight district title — the Lady Cavaliers came up short, falling 2-1 to Cincinnati Country Day Thursday at Monroe High School and finishing the season at 13-5-1.
The Lady Indians improved to 16-2-1.
“We wanted to go a lot farther,” Lehman coach Jeremy Lorenzo said. “But this was a young team. We played a tough schedule and it took us awhile to find out just what kind of team we had. I think when you look at it, you would have to say it was another successful season.”
And it was Lehman who struck first Thursday night.
With 31:15 still remaining in the first half, Katie Edwards sent a ball down towards the Lady Indians’ goal. Sara Fuller beat the goalie Olivia Robinson to the ball and chipped it over her head towards an empty net, with Grace Olding was there to put the ball in and make it 1-0.
“That was Sara being Sara,” Lorenzo said. “We were able to get the first score, which was what we wanted to do against a team like Cincinnati Country Day.”
But the rest of the half, Lehman struggled to possess the ball as Grace Brandt made a number of nice saves in goal. Olivia Brown just missed a kick from the top of the box, that deflected off the crossbar, then hit the post.
Then with 13:35 to go in the half, Katelyn Setter got the equalizer from the top of the box for Country Day.
“We talked about not letting (Country Day) get into a rhythm but that’s exactly what they did,” Lorenzo said.
It looked like Lehman might get to the half tied at 1-1, but late in the half, a ball was misplayed by a Lehman defender. Lauren Buczek tracked it down and with 1:19 remaining in the half, crossed it to Alyanna Kemp, who fired it in.
“That number 4 (Buczek) is a really nice player and made a nice play along the baseline to the girl (Kemp) at the top of the box,” Lorenzo said. “She just made a phenomenal shot.”
Early in the second half, Brandt had a number of good saves to keep Lehman in the game.
“Grace had some spectacular saves tonight,” Lorenzo said.
Midway through the second half, Lehman began to gain momentum, but the Lady Cavaliers could never get a good shot for an equalizer. They were able to get a corner kick with 10 seconds to go, but CCD was able to clear it just before the final buzzer.
“We got back to playing Lady Cavs soccer, using short kicks and controlling the ball. We just couldn’t get a second goal,” the coach said.
While Lehman will lose All-Ohio forward Fuller, the future remains bright.
“We lose one starter and Sara will be tough to replace,” Lorenzo said. “She is going to be an All-Ohio player this year. But the good news is we had a lot of young players who gained valuable experience this year.”
And when they return to the pitch next fall, the goal will be the same.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-334.