Thursday Oct. 29 marked the end Josh Wengerd’s coaching tenure at West Holmes and his team’s 2015 state tournament run. All thanks to the Minerva Lions.
The Lions got a goal in each half to send the Lady Knights packing from the tournament with a 2-1 loss at Carrollton High School in the Div. II East 1 district final.
Junior Riley Uhinck scored the lone goal of the night for the Lady Knights in the game’s 38th minute right before the halftime break.
Who Wengerd tabbed as Minerva’s best player, Josie Chaddock, scored five minutes into the game for the Lions to get them off to the best start possible. Peyton Smith then hit a cross in the 59th minute that banged off the back post and into the goal. Smith’s unconventional-looking goal ended up being the game-winner.
Minerva had just four shots on goal, but took advantage of two scoring opportunities getting the two goals they would need to obtain the regional berth.
The Lions will now face the Div. II East 2 district winner, the Tri Valley Scotties, in the regional semifinal game.
Against the Lady Knights, Minerva used a game plan of defend often and attack with the long ball. Which is the polar opposite of what the Lady Knights try to do, which is more of a possession-driven style.
“Our style and their style just did not mesh,” said Wengerd. “They play a run-and-gun kickball style, which can be effective sometimes, and that worked for them. We just couldn’t get any flow. Every time they got the ball they would just boot it down the field and see who could run on to it. We didn’t have the answer to get around their style.”
The Lions’ game plan included the use of Chaddock at both ends of the pitch. She was used on offense, but once the Lions scored she moved back to defense where several of her teammates had been camping out all night.
“Chaddock scored their first goal and then they moved her into a defensive midfielder spot,” Wengerd said. “We tied it right before the half so in the second half she comes out back at forward again. As soon as they scored their second goal she dropped back to defend. They had eight or nine girls defending at times.”
All those bodies and all that traffic in the Lady Knights’ offensive third created a tough go at scoring for West Holmes.
“None of our looks were very good,” said Wengerd about going up against all those defenders. “They all had to come from outside the penalty box. It’s hard to score that way.”
Down 2-1 with 17 minutes remaining, the Lady Knights didn’t panic, but kept the attack rolling hoping to sneak in an equalizer and force OT.
“There was still some time left after their second goal and we felt like we can still tie this thing up,” Wengerd said. “We never felt out of it. Even in the last minute we had a great scoring chance.”
“There was no quit in our girls, and that’s something to be proud of. It was disappointing to lose because we wanted to make that regional appearance and get the district’s crown back. It’s a tremendous group from the seniors all the way down the roster.”
Wengerd’s last season, his eighth at the helm of the Lady Knights, ends with his team going 11-7-1.