by MIKE LESKO | REPORTER
Aurora — It was a memorable season for the Aurora High School girls soccer team, which finished with a 12-5-2 record and reached the district final before losing 5-0 to host Walsh Jesuit on Oct. 25.
The Greenmen nipped Revere 1-0 in the district semifinals on Oct. 22. In the district final, Walsh was leading 4-0 at halftime, but the Greenmen refused to back down.
“Walsh was winning every 50-50 ball and every ball in the air,” Greenmen Coach Jason Bibza said. “So we set a goal to play for our own respect in the second half. We did not want to roll over and make it 9-0 like last year .
“So in the second half, we matched their energy, played much more physically and won our share of 50-50s,” he said. “Walsh hurried at the end to score a fifth goal with five seconds left, which we didn’t care about.
“After the game, we just recognized that we met our goal and finished strong,” he added.
“We proved that we could play with Walsh, which went on to win the state championship game 5-0. This was a big step for our girls to realize they did not need to be intimidated — that they could hold even with Walsh.”
Aurora finished in second place in the Chagrin Valley Conference with a 4-1-1 mark.
“We were one goal away from a first-place tie if we had scored against Kenston instead of tying them 0-0,” Bibza said, adding the strength of his team was defense.
“Once we changed to a marking system halfway through the season, we enjoyed a lot of success,” he said. “Our defenders rose to the personal challenge to shut down the opponent, and gave fits to some of the best forwards in the area.”
PRIOR TO the season finale, AHS collected six consecutive shutouts “due to our defense and goalkeeper Nicole Doyle. That is 480 minutes of soccer without allowing a goal,” Bibza said. “That’s pretty remarkable.”
The six straight shutouts set a school record. The team had nine total shutouts, breaking the record of eight in 2006. In the nine games leading up to the Walsh match, the team allowed two goals.
Bibza said Doyle had a lot to do with this success, as did defenders Kristen Verel, Katie Albrecht, Liz Domeck and Kali Bachman.
Top players included:
• First team all-district: Amanda Kovalcheck, Kristen Verel; second team all-district: Nicole Rinicella, Kendall Trudick; honorable mention all-district: Nicole Doyle, Katie Albrecht, Grace Bollas, Rylee Armold.
• First-team all-conference: Kovalcheck, Rinicella; second-team all-conference: Verel, Trudick, Albrecht; honorable mention all-conference: Doyle, Annelise Lindenfelser
Bibza said two of his team’s most challenging games were a 1-0 win over Hawken on Oct. 6, which was “an important CVC victory,” and the 1-0 triumph over Revere in the district semifinals.
“Both games were difficult wins because we came in as underdogs,” Bibza said. “We had to withstand a confident attack and play very aggressive defense, and look for a chance to counterattack.
“In both games, we found that opportunity in the first half to get a goal, and then had to hold on to secure the victory,” he added.
“Those games are tense because you can’t afford the slightest mistake. But both times, we were able to avoid mistakes and play consistent, solid team defense.”
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