The following game recap was written by Bob Daniels of The Chronicle-Telegram. It can be found by clicking here.
ELYRIA — A Final Four finish is good for any Lorain County soccer team.
In fact, until Elyria Catholic made it to the state semifinals last fall, it was unprecedented. The 2014 Panthers became the first high school team in the county — boys or girls — to advance so far in the postseason.
On the other hand, the accomplishment can be a double-edged sword, as the 2015 Panthers learned Wednesday night.
Fairview’s Caitlyn Groh, a senior forward, scored off a rebound in the 15th minute and the Warriors’ defense made it hold up for a 1-0 non-conference victory in a drizzle at Knights of Columbus Field.
“After making the Final Four last year, everyone’s going to be after us,” said senior Julia Scarpelli, one of the Panthers’ co-captains. “So, we still have to prove ourselves. We’re still a good team, but we still have to make it work. We didn’t play the best first half, that’s for sure. We definitely need to pass more to feet.”
It must be frustrating for the Panthers to realize they outshot Fairview 8-7 and matched the Warriors’ shots on goal at six apiece.
But, as first-year EC coach Jonathan Ruano noted, the Panthers lost some players from the Final Four team to graduation in June.
“We’re replacing some players and building a new team chemistry,” he said. “We started out slow and very sloppy, and our first touch was off. I take nothing away from (the Warriors), they put the ball in the back of the net.
“I was much happier with our second half,” he added. “We got more possession and we attacked more, but we couldn’t find the back of the net. But we will build off this and move on to Saturday when we’ll see St. Joseph Academy)”
Fairview, having played Bay — a three-time state champion — even for a half last week before losing, improved to 1-1-1. The tie came against another annual threat, North Olmsted. Wednesday was EC’s season opener.
The Panthers’ Meliah Roman, a senior midfielder, put a shot on the Fairview goal in the 13th minute, but junior goalkeeper Mo Wolansky was ready for it. The Panthers nearly nailed the equalizer in the 19th minute, but the shot glanced off the end of the Warriors crossbar.
EC had a tough time keeping possession in the first 40 minutes, but that improved after the break.
Stevie Holbrook, EC’s starting keeper, was moved to the midfield for the second half and senior Morgan Nisenboum took over in goal.
It was a good move. Holbrook put a shot on the Fairview goal in the 44th minute that Wolansky saved, but knocked the ball over the goal line.
The good news for EC was it resulted in back-to-back corner kicks by Scarpelli. The not-so-good news for the Panthers is they couldn’t capitalize.
But they also didn’t fold.
Senior forward Jenna Smith fired a rocket in the 51st minute, but the ball just cleared the Warriors crossbar. Holbrook put another shot on goal in the 58th minute and Scarpelli had a shot on the restart after a Fairview foul in the 62nd minute, but the defense got in the way again.
Also, the Panthers couldn’t click on Scarpelli’s free kick in the 52nd minute, and they got two more shots away in the final seven minutes, but neither was on goal.
“Defensively, we were everywhere and they played together as a team,” Fairview coach Dana Reuter said. “Especially in the second half, they were picking each other up, sliding and moving.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.