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Looking Back at the OHSAA’s Girls Soccer Championships

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Looking Back at the OHSAA's Soccer Championships
A centennial moment

By Timothy L. Hudak
Sports Heritage Specialty Publications
4814 Broadview Rd.
Cleveland, Ohio 44109
www.SportsHeritagePublications.net
 

The soccer tournament for girls is one of the youngest of the state’s championship tournaments, having its beginning in 1985.  While its history has been a short one, this tournament has nonetheless proven to be just as interesting and as exciting as all of the others.  It has been a tournament where teams may have dominated for a few years, six or seven at best, but never over the long haul. Also, until the last half dozen seasons, no one part of the state has really had a corner on girls’ soccer championships.  Both of these reasons have contributed to making the competition keen and the interest intense. 

When the tournament first began in 1985, all of the schools that had a girls soccer program played for a single state championship.  That set-up lasted until the 1995-1996 school year, when the schools were divided into two Divisions, I and II, based on student population.

The first school to rise to the top of the state tournament was Clayton Northmont.  The team burst onto the tournament scene just as its nickname implies, like Thunderbolts.   Coached by Bill Krintzline, the Thunderbolts took the state by storm in winning the first championship in 1985, finishing the season with a perfect 24-0-0 record.  Those 24 victories are still a single season high by any girls team in Ohio.  Northmont lost in the semi-finals in 1986, dropping a 3-2 shootout decision to eventual state champion Cincinnati Turpin, but then the girls came back like the thunderbolts of their namesake.

In 1987 the Thunderbolts went into the title game against North Olmsted without a loss, and just one tie, in 24 games.  As the clock ticked away the final minutes the score was deadlocked at one goal apiece.  Then, just when all in attendance were getting ready for overtime, Northmont’s Gina Grossarth found the back of the net with her second goal of the game.  That winning goal came with just five ticks left on the game clock! 

In 1988 the Thunderbolts again made it to the final four.  This time they defeated North Olmsted in the semi-final game, 3-1.  In the championship match the Thunderbolt’s Molly Postlewait scored midway through the second half to give Northmont (20-4-1) a 2-1 victory over Cincinnati Anderson High School.  (Clayton Northmont High School was truly on the top of Ohio high school soccer in 1988, for the boys team had also won the state championship, posting a perfect 25-0 season.) 

In 1989 coach Krintzline’s Thunderbolts advanced to the semi-finals for the fifth consecutive year, the only team to make it to the final four each year of the young tournament.  Compared to the previous tournaments, this one proved to be relatively easy for Northmont as they defeated Medina, 3-0, in the semi-finals, then won the state championship with a 4-1 victory over West Carrollton.  That marked four championships in five seasons.  The Thunderbolts are still the only girls team to capture four state soccer titles, and they are the only team, boys or girls, to win three in a row (1987-88-89). 

The “center” of Ohio girls soccer now shifted a bit to the east of Clayton, to just north of Columbus to Westerville, where two schools, Westerville North and Westerville South, would pretty much dominate the scene for the next half dozen seasons.

 In 1990, Westerville North, coached by Tim Lawrence, was one of the top ranked teams in both Ohio and the U.S.  The Warriors advanced to the state finals with a record of 20-1-2, but there they would have to meet the Centerville Elks, 22-1-1, and ranked #7 in the U.S. to Westerville’s #18.  As one might expect with two such highly ranked and skillful teams facing off against each other, it was a defensive struggle from the get go.  Centerville may have had an added incentive, since their lone defeat had come at the hands of North, but throughout the entire contest neither team could score a goal, the game ending in a 0-0 tie.  Then, in a complete reversal of form, lightning struck.  With just 15 seconds gone in the overtime session, even before Centerville could set its defense, Westerville’s Kara Waltz buried a shot into the Centerville net to give the Warriors their first state championship.

In 1991 coach Lawrence’s team was even better.  They advanced through the entire season undefeated, and entered the state championship match ranked #1 in both Ohio and the U.S.  Their opponent in the finals would be St. Ursula Academy (20-1-2) from Cincinnati, a team that was also nationally ranked.  Although Westerville out shot St. Ursula, the first half ended scoreless.  In the second half the Bulldogs from Cincinnati came out shooting, and the shots found their mark as they defeated North by a score of 3-0.

In 1992 Westerville North was again at the top of its game, advancing to the state finals with another undefeated team, 20-0-3, and ranked #1 in Ohio and #5 in the country.  Their opponent, like it had been in 1990, was the Centerville Elks.  The game was close throughout the first half, with the Elks scoring the only goal to take a 1-0 lead.  The fireworks in this one came eight minutes into the second half, when Westerville scored to tie the game.  Just two and one-half minutes later Westerville scored again to take a 2-1 lead, a lead they enjoyed for exactly 21 seconds before the Elks tied the score.  The game remained tied until there was 15:11 left to play, at which time Westerville’s three-time All-Ohio and two-time All-American, Lisa Suttmiller, scored the goal that gave the Warriors a 3-2 victory and their second state championship.

Westerville North advanced to the state finals for the fourth straight year in 1993, facing another previous championship game rival, St. Ursula Academy.  The game was played at Hilliard High School on a muddy, sloppy field in a steady, and occasionally heavy, rain.  Westerville coach Tim Lawrence had hoped that the field conditions would slow down the quicker St. Ursula squad, but such was not to be the case.  The Bulldogs of coach Bob Sheehan proved to be real “mudders” as they scored twice in each half to hand North a 4-1 defeat and win for St. Ursula its second state soccer championship.  (This proved to be a huge day, and a huge year, for St. Ursula Academy athletics.  That same day the Bulldogs won the Div. II state volleyball championship, and earlier in the year they had won the girls state swim title.)

While the Westerville North run of success had come to an end, the girls from Westerville South emerged to keep the city’s name at the top of Ohio’s high school soccer world for two more seasons.  To say that the Wildcats’ tournament success in 1994 came as a bit of a surprise would be a mild understatement.  The girls entered the tournament with a less than impressive record of 9-6-1, but as the saying goes, they peaked at just the right time.  Six games later they found themselves headed to the state finals, playing for a championship against the undefeated Centerville Elks.  The Elks took a 1-0 lead just 3:27 into the game, but that would be their only point of the day.  South’s Brynn Catino tied the game with 32:34 left to play, then 17 minutes later Ms. Catino nailed the game winner to give the Wildcats a 2-1 victory - and a most improbable state championship.  That championship was all the sweeter for Wildcats coach Gil McGovern, who won his first state championship while coaching his final game before retirement.

In 1995, under new coach Bobby Weimer, the Wildcats had an even better season.  Now playing in Division I, Westerville South “cruised” through the season, entering the state finals with a record of 19-1-2.  Their championship match against Hudson High School was postponed for three days because of bad weather, but it was well worth the wait.  The game was scoreless after the first half, but the Wildcats out scored the Explorers 3-1 in the second session to take home their second consecutive state championship.  Westerville South has only advanced to the girls soccer final four twice (1994-95), but made it pay off each time.

From 1996 to 2005 the northeastern part of Ohio has emerged as the dominant section of the state for girls soccer.  Of the 20 championships won over that period of time, 13 have been by teams from this area.  Chagrin Falls High School started this trend by winning the Division II state title in 1996.  After losing the Division I championship match in 1996, the Bees of Medina High School came right back to finish the job in 1997 with a 3-1 victory over Worthington’s Thomas Worthington High School.  In 1998, the Strongsville High School Mustangs started on what for them would be a still continuing run of success by winning their first Division I state championship. 

Beginning in 1999, Hudson High School would play in three consecutive Division I championship matches.  That year they lost 3-2 in a shootout with West Chester Lakota West, but they came back to win the state title by defeating Cincinnati’s Mother of Mercy High School in 2000.  In 2001 the Explorers found out the hard way that it is not easy to defend a state title, dropping a 2-0 decision to a powerful Dublin Coffman team.

While Hudson was doing a creditable job representing the northeast in Division I, two other schools were having even better success in Division II.  In 1999, Bay Village won the first of an eventual three state titles, while in 2000 and 2001 the girls from Walsh Jesuit in Cuyahoga Falls totally dominated the division with back-to-back championships.  In fact, the Warriors (21-0-1) of coach Dino McIntyre were the toast of the soccer world for the entire country in 2000 in 2000, as they were named the national champions. 

In 2002 and 2003 the northeast almost made a clean sweep of both divisional championships.  In Division II, Bay Village won consecutive state titles, giving the Rockets three championships in the last five seasons.  In Division I, Strongsville took the title in 2002, but in 2003 they found their way blocked by one of the all-time great teams, and players, in the state.  That team was Dublin Coffman High School, and that player was the Shamrocks’ aptly named Kelly Quinn.  Ms Quinn was named Ohio’s “Player of the Year” three consecutive years, 2002-03-04, as well as being named an All-American all three of those seasons.  In 2003 the Shamrocks (23-0-1) ended Strongsville’s (21-1-1) reign atop Division I with a 1-0 victory in a game that matched the two best defenses in the state.  Coffman added one last crown that year by also being named national champions.

In 2004 the northeast again grabbed a double championship.  Walsh Jesuit, now playing in Division I, knocked off defending champion Dublin Coffman, 2-1, to give the Warriors their third state title.  In Division II, Hathaway Brown of Shaker Heights made its only trip to the final four one to remember by defeating Cincinnati Indian Hill, 2-1, in overtime to win the school’s only state championship.

Strongsville’s Mustangs continued their fine play of the last eight years in 2005 by winning the school’s third Division I championship. 

While this report has focused mainly on the top teams in Ohio girls soccer, it would be remiss if it did not also point out some of the outstanding young ladies whose contributions have helped make Ohio one of the most exciting venues for high school soccer in the country.  Besides the already mentioned Kelly Quinn, several other girls have achieved All-American status during their high school careers.  Kristin Persichini from Walsh Jesuit was twice named to that elite list, in 2002 and 2003.  Elise Falatach (Bay Village, 2002), Carrie LaCroix (Bexley, 2003), Kristin May (Walsh, 2004), and Courtney Rosen (Hathaway Brown, 2004) have also attained All-American status.

In addition, several girls are at or near the top nationally in several statistical categories.  For example, Kelli Pierce recorded 53 saves in a game for Circleview Logan Elm back in 2000, setting a national record, while Rebecca Roggelin (Oregon Cardinal Stitch, 2001-2004) is #2 in career saves with 1103, and Cathy Glover (Sidney High School, 1991-94) is right behind her in third place with 1013.    On the offensive side of the ball, Findlay’s Kristy Coppes scored 13 goals in a single game back in 2000, good for second in the country in that category.

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