CELINA — The match went all too familiarly for the St. Marys girls soccer team.
Celina scored early after a penalty, and the Roughriders were left playing catch-up against a tough Bulldog defense the rest of the evening.
Celina scored early in the first half via penalty kick in a 1-0 win over rival in a Division II district semifinal on Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs won the regular season match similarly on Sept. 13, when an early free kick goal was all the Bulldogs needed to earn the 1-0 win in a key Western Buckeye League match.
“Deja vu,” St. Marys head coach Paul Dingledine said. “It was a free kick early last time and a PK this time. We had opportunity after opportunity and just couldn’t finish one. It’s been the story of our season.”
St. Marys bows out of the tournament with a 13-4-1 record while Celina advances to Saturday’s district title game at Elida against Bath, who downed Shawnee 3-1 on Wednesday night.
Celina junior Kari Donovan booted in a penalty kick into the left corner of the net following a St. Marys handball in the box with 36:43 left in the first half.
“Kari is very, very consistent and she handles pressure well,” Celina head coach Cal Freeman said about the decision of giving Donovan the PK. “I felt in a game like this, with the pressure like this, I had confidence in her and she put it in the back corner where it has to be. No one is going to stop that shot.”
The Celina defenders, led by Amanda Ebbing, Taylor Guingrich, Heather Heiby and Donovan, did the rest. It’s nothing new for a Celina defense that has given up just seven goals all season.
“We kept the cross balls down to a minimum, and that’s what St. Marys likes to do,” Freeman said. “They love to cross the ball and slam the middle. We were able to shut that down pretty well.”
St. Marys had chances, Dingledine said. “I though our shots we had at the half were better than the ones they had,” he said. “We just have knack at putting shots right at the keeper. We’ve practiced and practiced and practiced it and it just never sunk in.”
St. Marys knocked Celina out of the tournament a season ago with a 1-0 win on the Bulldogs’ home turf. Celina returned the favor this time and will play a Bath team that was the only WBL team to beat them.
St. Marys was looking to win its first district title since 2009.
“These girls are broken-hearted tonight,” Dingledine said. “They know the tradition we have here, but they also knew what it was going
to be like trying to beat Celina at Celina. It makes it tough. We did the best we could.”