BOYS SOCCER: St. Marys holds off Elida to break postseason drought
WAPAKONETA — The St. Marys boys soccer team ended half a decade of postseason frustration with the help of a quick early strike.
Brennan Brown scored 18 seconds into the match, Zac Nelson added a goal on a direct kick and St. Marys held off Elida in a frantic final four minutes to earn a 2-1 win on Thursday in a Division II sectional final at Wapakoneta.
Photos: St. Marys vs. Elida boys sectional soccer
St. Marys won its first tournament match since a sectional semifinal win over Elida in 2007, breaking a spell of five straight postseason losses.
In 2011, Elida upended the higher-seeded Roughriders 2-1 in overtime. In three straight seasons for 2008 to 2010, Wapakoneta ousted St. Marys from the sectional in its first matches.
It felt good to have some tournament success.
“Awesome,” St. Marys head coach Dave Ring, who is in his second stint as the Roughrider head coach. “A lot of those (I wasn’t coaching), but I was definitely a part of what was going on in the program. It’s nice to get the monkey off our back.”
In the nightcap, Cory Wilder scored two goals for Shawnee as the Indians blanked Celina, 2-0, to capture the sectional crown.
St. Marys and Shawnee will meet for the second time in two weeks on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. at Wapakoneta. Shawnee beat the Roughriders last week 4-1 to clinch a share of the Western Buckeye League title.
To get there, St. Marys built a 2-0 lead with the help of its two top scorers this season.
Brown took the ball to start the match and attacked. He scored 18 seconds into the match.
“We wanted to attack early, but I didn’t think it would happen that quickly,” Ring said, laughing.
“It makes it difficult when they score 20 seconds into the game, but I thought our kids came back from that pretty well,” Elida head coach Tom Thomas said.
St. Marys tacked on another goal when Zac Nelson booted in a goal on a direct free kick from close proximity with 13:47 left in the first half.
St. Marys controlled the action until Elida started a push with less than five minutes to go.
Elida’s Gaerid Littler scored with 3:34 on a sliding kick he tucked into the right side of the net to halve the lead, 2-1.
“We’ve got to do a better job of protecting our leads and scoring more on our opportunities to build on those leads,” Ring said.
Elida got a few more good looks at the net during the scramble of the last few minutes, including a good look that just drifted high over the crossbar. But St. Marys keeper Luke Leffel and the Rider defense held up to send St. Marys to the district.
“We had three or four shots there at the end, but they all got deflected,” Thomas said.
St. Marys and Elida played to a 3-3 draw in the Western Buckeye League opener back in September.