Senior midfielder Sam Kuehnle’s 30-yard strike in the 51st minute
through an unsuspecting Worthington Christian defense gave Ottawa Hills
a 1-0 win in the boys Division III soccer state championship game Friday
in rain-soaked Columbus Crew Stadium. It marks the first Toledo-area
school to win a boys or girls soccer state championship.
the tournament and never having advanced past the regional finals,
Ottawa Hills (20-3-0) knocked off the state’s No. 1-ranked team, Gates
Mills Hawken, 3-0 in the state semifinal Tuesday and the state’s No.
2-ranked team, Worthington Christian, Friday to cap off the Green
Bears’ season-ending 14-game winning streak.
Ottawa Hills, which
overcame an 0-2-0 season start, also beat No. 6 Bluffton in the district
final and shut out 17 of its 23 opponents.
In the 51st minute,
Ottawa Hills senior Ben Bryant took a 35-yard free kick from outside the
top-left corner of the 18-yard box that Worthington Christian junior
goalkeeper Alex Scott punched out of the penalty area. As the WC defense
relaxed, Kuehnle rushed up on the ball as it bounced outside the
top-right corner of the 18. His line-drive shot hit the back-left corner
of the net, stunning Scott and the WC defense.
Entering the finals
with a 14-game winning streak, Worthington Christian applied most of the
pressure during the first half, out-shooting Ottawa Hills 9-4 in the
first 40 minutes. The Warriors ended the game with a 14-12 shot
advantage and nearly tied the game with 9:15 left when senior midfielder
Eric Stevenson’s shot went off the fingertips of Ottawa Hills senior
goalkeeper Kevin Elliott and bounced off the left post.
Elliott ended the game with five saves. His first big one came with 12
minutes left in the first half when Stevenson sent a corner kick into
the box that senior Luke Helmuth nearly headed in from just four yards
Christian’s Stevenson posted a game-high seven shots, including four on
goal. Scott had three saves.