Hiland Boys Soccer

Hawks leave regional tilt with GH with lots of shots and nothing to show for it in 3-0 loss

Patrick Miller and the Hawks battled to the bitter end in falling to state power Grandview Heights in regional final tile

Through nearly a quarter-century of head coaching, Hiland Hawks boys soccer head coach Scott Bodiker has racked up a monster number of tournament wins. He has amassed nearly 20 district championships and has come within a whisper of a state berth on more than a few occasions. He also has experienced heartbreak along the way, but following Hiland’s 3-0 loss to Grandview Heights on Saturday, Nov. 3 at Highland High School in Marengo, Bodiker said he didn’t think he had ever experienced anything quite like this one.

That was because Grandview Heights’ Manny Day had three golden scoring opportunities and chased in on all three while Hiland had scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity and came away without a goal in the contest.

“He had three good chances to score, and he made all three,” Bodiker said of Day. “We had, what, a dozen good chances to score? That is one of the stranger games I have been involved with. With the score line 3-0, you feel like they must have really been the better team, clearly and obviously. But if you were here watching the game, that score line could have just as easily been in our favor.”

Hiland had held the high-scoring Day in check most of the first half until he finally worked his way loose after Hiland broke down on defense, and he smoked one past keeper Brant Klink for the opening score late in the half, and that was how it stood heading into the break.

While trailing by one, it could have been much worse if not for a sensational save by Klink on a shot from Joel Samuels at the 29:48 mark that kept the game scoreless. Meanwhile the Hawks spent much of the first half playing right alongside Grandview Heights, a team that has developed into a Div. III state powerhouse over the past few years.

In the 15th minute Brayden Gray narrowly missed putting Hiland on the board, and in the 22nd minute Chris Miller’s sliding shot was batted away by GH keeper Jake Kelley. A few minutes later the Hawks appeared to have a golden opportunity when Chris Miller took a pass and beat the defense, but an offside call on Gray, who wasn’t even involved with the play, eliminated that scoring chance.

GH had a golden opportunity slip away when a GH player had a point-blank shot on a fairly open net. He wound up, whiffed and fell down as the Hawks avoided disaster for at least a few minutes. Declan Howell then fired off two good looks but came away empty, and at the 33:03 mark in the second half, Day delivered again.

With a one-goal deficit at the half, Bodiker was excited about his team’s chances because they had survived playing into the wind and only given up the single tally. Now with the wind at their backs, they would have the advantage.

“The wind was definitely a factor, and we played pretty well the first half,” Bodiker said. “We felt like we were in a good position at that point.”

In soccer it is oftentimes not the initial goal that is important but the second one. If the lead team gets it, they are in total command. If the trailing team gets it, they tie things up and have all the momentum.

The momentum now belonged to Grandview Heights, but it would be the Hawks who would go into all-out attack mode.

“That put us behind the eight-ball, but the reality was that after that second goal we had four or five really great chances to make it 2-1 and put the pressure right back on them,” Bodiker said. “If we make one of those, I think the self-doubt creeps in for them a little bit. We obviously had a ton of chances, and those are shots coming from good finishers.”

At 32:03 with Kelley far out of net after coming out to clear a ball, Howell had an open net and struck a high, lobbing shot over the top of Kelley. However, the ball sailed just over the top bar, leaving Hiland scoreless. With 31:23 left Taylor Mullet got ahead of the defense and challenged Kelley one on one, but Kelley came flying out, met Taylor and made a sensational two-handed block, maintaining GH’s two-goal lead.

While Day did all the scoring, it was Kelley who truly proved to be the biggest player on the field, coming up with save after save as Hiland continued to produce really good looks at the goal.

With just over 24 minutes Hiland had its best chance, where Pat Miller found himself with an open goal after Kelley found himself far on the right side of the net and well off the line. From 15 yards out Pat Miller simply had to find the face to make it 2-1, but his shot went flying into the side-net. Gray had another opportunity but was swatted away by Kelley. Mullet had two more shots, but again Kelley came up with stops. Finally with 14 minutes to play, Mullet had a close-up look with plenty of angles to choose from but hit it just wide right. By the time Day netted his third goal on a ball that was deflected and left Klink with no chance of stopping it, the game was basically over, although the Hawks kept attacking.

With three minutes to play, Bodiker unloaded his bench, and the Hiland starters who had given so much all year were afforded one final sign of appreciation from their fans, who gave them a standing ovation.

“Honestly that might be more frustrating than anything,” Bodiker said of the loss. “Sometimes if you get your butt kicked, it’s easier to say hey, they were better. But to know that we were just as good as them but it just didn’t happen for us today is hard to accept.”

The Hawks knew coming in that Grandview Heights was a very strong, very dangerous team that had produced seven goals in their regional semifinal win. However, Hiland was coming off of a tremendous 1-0 victory over a high-scoring South Webster team, so they too felt confident coming in.

“We played two really good teams in the regionals, and I thought we acquitted ourselves very well in both games,” Bodiker said. “On two of their goals, they were great finishes, but a couple of mental errors hurt us. A few small mental mistakes and really good players will capitalize on them, and [Day] did. He is going to be First Team All-Ohio for a reason and maybe even the Div. III Player of the Year. If he’s not, he should be.”

While Day did his thing, Bodiker credited Kelley with playing just as big of a role.

“Their keeper came up big,” Bodiker said. “How many one-v-ones did we have against him, a half a dozen? He made some big plays, and the game changes on plays like that.”

Bodiker said after having not qualified for regionals the past couple of years, it was good to see this senior group lead the Hawks back to the regional tournament.

“All eight seniors are very dedicated, and I can’t say enough good things about them,” Bodiker said.

With a strong core returning next season, Bodiker said this experience should benefit the returning crew, who will again seek to find a way to take that next step to reach the state tournament.

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