BROADVIEW HEIGHTS: Efficient, opportunistic and dominating.
In short, it was a typical performance by the Walsh Jesuit girls soccer team Saturday, as they defeated Canfield 3-0 to capture the Division II regional title Saturday at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School.
The Warriors can now look forward to a state semifinal matchup with Toledo St. Ursula at 7 p.m. Tuesday at a site to be determined.
The truth is, they have been thinking about that ever since last season ended in a painful 4-3 loss to the same team on penalty kicks, also in the state semifinals.
“This game has haunted our entire team for over a year now, knowing how it ended last year,” said Walsh senior Abbey Filicko, who scored the first goal Saturday. “When we go back to this game, now we’re the underdogs. We have something to prove and we want to get to [the state final] this year.”
Filicko and the Warriors didn’t know it at the time, but St. Ursula did indeed beat Bellville Clear Fork 1-0 Saturday to set up the rematch. And it is debatable if Walsh (19-0-2), ranked No. 1 in the state, could be considered an underdog.
The Warriors certainly were not against Canfield (17-4), though the Cardinals entered the game on a major roll, winning 10 in a row and outscoring their opponents 53-2 in that stretch with eight shutouts.
But Walsh wasted little time in taking control. Filicko took a corner kick from the left side, hooking it into the right corner past goalkeeper Victoria Villano for a 1-0 lead with 24:40 left in the first half.
The ball also eluded Warriors senior Sandra Yu, who attempted a leaping header but couldn’t reach it.
Yu had her moments, however. The first was with 9:07 remaining in the half, when she made a steal and stuck a 10-yard shot just inside the left post to make it 2-0.
“I went in the midfield, touched it by her and then the keeper,” said Yu. “I don’t think I would have had an angle to even shoot it if I would’ve taken one more step.”
Yu also assisted on the third goal with 16:08 left in the game, delivering a perfect cross from the left side for senior Maddy John, who punched it in from point-blank range.
Walsh coach Dino McIntyre has learned to except such play from Yu, a Notre Dame recruit who plays both center midfield and forward and earned All-America honors last year.
“The second one was a typical Sandra goal,” said McIntyre. “Ahead of time she knows where the ball’s going to go, or she reads it and then she’s just a lion to it. She beat two girls to it, and then beat another one. If she took an extra touch, she probably would have gotten the shot blocked but she found the right time to hit it.”
McIntyre said his defenders closed things down well, but otherwise were not up to usual standards.
“We were very bad today defensively with our clears, our touches, our reading the bounces,” he said. “One or two of their players on their own dribbled through three or four of us.”
Still, the Warriors had 13 shots on goal to just two for Canfield and held a 5-1 advantage in corners. Sophomore goalkeeper Libby Grace needed only one save in posting the shutout.
“We gave up two goals early and against a team like Walsh Jesuit you can’t do that if you expect to win,” Canfield coach Phil Simone said.
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