State-ranked Streetsboro rallies to draw with Aurora girls soccer
AURORA — Ryan Willard has the benefit of perspective, thanks to his 13 years in charge of Streetsboro girls soccer.
When he first took over the program, the Rockets barely had a pulse. Taking on their neighbors to the north in Aurora would have been an exercise in futility.
"We wouldn't have scheduled this match 13 years ago," Willard said. "We would have had no business being on the field with them."
It didn't happen overnight, but fortunes have changed for the Rockets under Willard's guidance.
In fact, Streetsboro was ranked No. 9 in Division II in this week's Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association poll. It was only the second time Streetsboro earned a state ranking and was the highest ranking in school history.
Playing in the Suburban League, however, Aurora knows a thing or two about dealing with state-ranked teams.
When the Greenmen welcomed the Rockets to Veterans Stadium Oct. 1, Aurora made it clear "The Battle of Route 43" is still a battle.
Aurora jumped out to an early two-goal lead, only to see Streetsboro rally to tie the match in the 77th minute and finish in a 2-2 draw.
Streetsboro remained undefeated 9-0-3, while Aurora moved to 5-6-2 on the season.
Aurora coach Domenica McClintock called the draw "a victory for us," given that her team has been decimated by injuries during the second half of the season.
"We were constantly working the ball around tonight," McClintock said. "We had a lot of chances and we were able to take care of a few. I think we played a tremendous game tonight."
Aurora's injury woes continued just before the game, as starting goaltender Morgan Demagall was scratched due to a quadriceps issue.
Willard tipped his cap to the Greenmen for their early effort.
"Aurora came out on fire," Willard said. "You could tell they were up for this. They were moving the ball all over. I kind of felt that, if we could make it to the second half, we'd be able to have a chance."
For the first 20 minutes of the game, Streetsboro had issues getting out of its own half. Aurora seniors Emma Krondorfer and Carlie Filkouski commanded the center of the field with their size and aggression.
Aurora made its early pressure pay off with a goal in the fifth minute, thanks to a hustle play by sophomore Bailey McGee.
McGee was able to keep a ball alive just out of the reach of Streetsboro keeper Allyson Laudato. McGee slid the ball into the six-yard box and Filouski hit the ball into the open net.
After several near misses, Aurora doubled it advantage in the 22nd minute.
A ball into the six-yard box seemed to bounce off four players before Aurora junior Allyson Marota bundled the ball over the line to make it 2-0.
Despite the mishaps, Willard noted Aurora could have scored three or four goals if not for Laudato making a ton of early saves. She finished with 11 saves on the night.
"Allyson was was huge for us tonight," Willard said. "That was the best game she's ever played for us."
Likewise, McClintock had plaudits for Greenmen goaltender Lizzy Pike. The last-minute replacement finished with five saves, several of which were one-on-one stops.
"Lizzy Pike was clutch for us tonight," McClintock said. "She really stepped up."
Good as Pike was, however, she could do nothing in the 26th minute, when Streetsboro's Emma Flick made one of her trademark runs on net.
Flick raced behind the Greenmen defense on the left side, went one-on-one with Pike and slide a ball into the right corner of the net to make it 2-1.
The match stayed at 2-1 at halftime and well into the second half, as Aurora had several chances to restore its two-goal lead. The Greenmen finished with a 14-9 edge in shot on goal and a 10-1 edge in corner kicks.
The longer the second half went on, however, the more possession Streetsboro got in Aurora's end.
After being denied twice earlier in the second half, Flick found the equalizer in the 77th minute.
Timing her run perfectly to beat Aurora's offside trap, Flick raced 30 yards toward goal and hit a low shot past Pike to tie it.
"You've got to give her credit," Willard said. "She is someone who can carry the team when we need her to."
Aurora gave itself a chance to retake the lead with a corner kick in last 30 seconds, but Streetsboro cleared its box to preserve the draw.