COLUMBUS — It wasn’t the final result the Ottawa Hills boys soccer team was hoping for, but it left the state championship game Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium with evidence to back up its belief it could stand toe-to-toe with Ohio’s premier Division III program.
Tasked with a matchup against two-time defending state champion Cincinnati Summit Country Day, the Green Bears fell 1-0 for their only loss of the season.
Ottawa Hills' John Kight is comforted by his coach Nate Baer after the Green Bears were defeated 1-0 in the Division III state championship match Saturday in Columbus.
“The boys were phenomenal,” coach Nate Baer said. “We had a fantastic year coming into this game. We knew we belonged here. They’ve got two Division I commits and we knew if we won the midfield we’d have a good shot. We had them on their heels for a bit of the game but they’ve got a lot of quality.”
Ottawa Hills (20-1-2), which was making its first appearance in a state final since it won its only title in 2008, had one of its better opportunities with 12 minutes left in the first half when junior forward Kevin Hileman shot it toward the goal before it was cleared by the defense.
Summit Country Day (18-3-2) scored the game’s only goal with 10:23 remaining in regulation, when Henry Schertzinger drove toward the left side of the goal and crossed it to Eli Rawlings, who drilled it past Ottawa Hills goalkeeper Tommy Coil.
“It was a good pass to get them in, and I should have covered more of the near post than I did, and he had a good shot,” Coil said.
According to Hileman, the Silver Knights’ skills in the midfield made it tough to create chances.
Ottawa Hills finished with two shots on goal.
“The defense wasn’t problem,” said Hileman, who finished the season with 35 goals and 26 assists. “We were having trouble penetrating the space in the midfield and we couldn’t get the ball to the offense. We tried to adjust and figure out how to penetrate that big space and it didn’t really work out.”
Ottawa Hills players with the state runner-up trophy after Saturday's 1-0 loss to Cincinnati Summit Country Day at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus.
In addition to keeping Hileman off the scoreboard, the Silver Knights held forward Dylan Schreder — who entered with 25 goals and 12 assists — in check.
“I think we pressured them well,” Baer said. “We didn’t get the clear-cut chances we typically get but we had some good opportunities. I thought our game plan worked out for us tactically and we were able to win the midfield, and honestly I felt like we were a better team at times.
“The quality that Summit has, that was a very creative through ball in behind and it was so tight to the box, Tommy did well by holding himself, but (they had a) great finish on the one great opportunity they had.”
While Summit Country Day has won five titles in six seasons and six championships overall, Ottawa Hills thinks it has the players returning to make it back a year from now.
Schreder and Hileman are juniors who led the offense, and Coil also is a junior.
“Getting here was just unbelievable, especially with how young we are,” Hileman said. “We have a team of mostly sophomores and juniors, and that’s special on its own.
“It definitely enrages me, and I’m going to remember that next year when I’m back here [and] we will be back, I promise that.”
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