For just over 11 minutes the overwhelming underdog Steubenville Catholic Central Crusaders battled the district’s top-seeded Lady Hawks of Hiland to a scoreless tie in their Thursday, Oct. 19 contest at Hiland High School.
Then the floodgates opened and spewed forth a torrent of Hiland goals that led to a blowout 14-0 Lady Hawks win that saw them advance a step farther in the tournament.
Once the Lady Hawks finally got rolling, they found the back of the net with a vengeance, and it was rare for the Crusaders to even advance the ball much past the midfield stripe as the game wore on.
While Hiland didn’t score in the game’s first 11 minutes, they did manage to set an eerie tone for anyone rooting for SCC. The Lady Hawks held constant possession deep in the Crusader’s end of the field.
After Hiland had been poking around the SCC goal through the first 11 minutes without success, Gabby Schlabach took a pass from Shana Miller in the 12th minute of play and delivered the Lady Hawks’ first score of the night. It would be far from their last. Five minutes later Kate Bodiker sent a pass through to Mia Gertz, who snuck one in for a 2-0 lead. One minute later Taryn Schlabach assisted Gertz again to put Hiland up 3-0.
The full-court press would continue as Hiland would maintain possession in the Crusader’s end of the field, and that pressure led to a fourth score in the 21st minute when Taryn Schlabach again played the giver and doled out an assist to Shana Miller for a 4-0 lead. Taryn Schlabach was rewarded for her unselfish play when the Crusaders were whistled for a foul in the box, and head coach Conner Lee tabbed Taryn Schlabach to do the honors of the PK, which she promptly delivered to the back of the net for a 5-0 lead. The scoring for the first half ended in the 32nd minute with Shana Schlabach getting her second tally off of a pass from Melody Murtaugh, who came out of a scrum in front of the net with possession, turned and found Schlabach.
The second half saw Hiland continue to work hard on moving the ball to get it into strong scoring positions, and the scoring deluge continued for Hiland when Lexi Raber started the second half with a goal off a pass from Kylee Kaufman in the 47th minute.
Greta Mast moved a pass through the middle to Allison Gingerich, who delivered a score, and in the 58th minute the Lady Hawks scored on a sister act when Paige Gertz fed older sister Mia Gertz for a score and a 9-0 Hiland advantage.
After not having much to do on the defensive end of the field, Hiland’s outstanding defensive leader Nikki Yoder took advantage of the blowout to move forward, where she took a pass from Shana Miller and drove home a score. Lexi Raber then got in a giving mood, doling out a pair of assists to Shana Miller and Gabby Schlabach. Then for good measure she found Bodiker, who delivered goal number 13 for the Lady Hawks. Finally in the 74th minute, Mia Gertz unleashed a pass to Greta Mast, who hammered it home for the final goal of the night.
“It was good work again by our defense to get a shut-out and nice to see a lot of different girls get in the score sheet,” Lee said.
This game was a complete and utter contrast to Hiland’s final regular-season game versus a talented Steubenville squad on Oct. 13.
While goals were everywhere in the tournament contest with SCC, the game versus the Big Red was all defense, all night, and the two teams battled to the wire in a scoreless tie for the first 77 minutes of play, but with just more than two minutes left to play, Hiland finally solved the Big Red defense and punched in a score to win a thrilling season finale.
Lexi Raber delivered a picture-perfect pass to Taryn Schlabach, who drove home the game’s lone goal and gave Hiland an extremely exciting finish to a terrific game.
“It was a really good game that came right down to the wire,” Lee said. “Steubenville is a nice team, and it was a good win for us.”
Steubenville fell to 11-4-1 with the loss while Hiland advanced its final regular-season record to 11-5. The tourney win over Steubenville Catholic Central moved Hiland to 12-5, but in the end a one-goal win and 14-goal win both add up to just one win. However, any win in tournament play is a good win, and that means the Lady Hawks will live to fight another day.