SANDUSKY: The Walsh Jesuit girls soccer team got the victory it coveted Tuesday night against Toledo St. Ursula Academy.
A year of thinking about last year’s disappointing loss to St. Ursula in a Division II state semifinal match had Walsh highly motivated to win.
The Warriors did just that, courtesy of a goal by sophomore Halle Stelbasky in the 50th minute off a pass by senior Sandra Yu for a 1-0 victory in a Division II state semifinal match at Sandusky Perkins High School’s Firelands Regional Medical Center Stadium.
Walsh’s reward is a trip to Columbus Crew Stadium to play Columbus St. Francis DeSales for the Division II state championship at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
“When you get this far, it is all about just surviving,” Walsh coach Dino McIntyre said. “The girls found a way today and the credit goes to them.”
St. Ursula ended Walsh’s season last year in a state semifinal match at Tiffin, triumphing 4-3 on penalty kicks after the two sides were tied 0-0 after regulation and overtime.
The Arrows were all smiles and overjoyed last year on a cold and rainy evening.
Tuesday night, the Warriors were the ones celebrating in the cold.
“It was sweet revenge I guess,” Yu said with a smile. “We knew that we couldn’t just rely on that though. We had to come out and play. We used revenge as motivation, but we knew we had to go out and do it, and we did it.”
The Warriors (20-0-2) and Arrows (13-6-3) were scoreless at halftime Tuesday. Walsh had a 3-1 advantage in shots on goal at the time, but McIntyre was not happy.
“At halftime, we told them that in the first half they [St. Ursula] wanted it more,” McIntyre said. “We needed to really pick it up, and we really did. In the second half we pretty much dominated.”
Walsh finished the match with a huge advantage in shots (18-2), shots on goal (10-1) and corner kicks (4-0).
“It is indescribable,” Yu said of going to Columbus. “To do it with this group of girls, I wouldn’t choose anybody else to do it with. I can’t wait.”
Stelbasky’s 14th goal of the season made it possible.
“Sandra saw her open and played her,” McIntyre said. “She played her really hard. The ball was driven, and she was only 15 yards away. Halle’s first touch was amazing and her second touch was even more amazing. To hit a bouncing volley turning left, boom, like that with that pace was amazing. Usually those volleys can go 40 yards above the goal.”
The assist was Yu’s 19th of the season. She also has 15 goals.
“It was not intentional actually,” Yu said of the pass. “It was kind of a shank pass. She [Stelbasky] just happened to get to it and just finish it off.”
The Arrows struggled to penetrate a Walsh defense that features seniors Abbey Filicko and Sarah Kornick along with juniors Emily Rogers and Kaitlyn Semelsberger.
As a result, sophomore goalkeeper Libby Grace needed to save just one shot that came her way.
Yu and her midfield cohorts (freshman Gabby LoPresti, junior Alex Kithcart and senior Renee Mirka) helped the Warriors possess the ball for a majority of the match and dictate tempo on the pitch along with Stelbasky and senior forward Kennedy Payne.
“Without my teammates I couldn’t have done this,” Stelbasky said. “It was a total team effort. It wasn’t just me at all. I am so excited to go to state. It is just an incredible feeling.”
McIntyre was also pleased with the play of sophomores Juli Knapp and Maddie Filicko in reserve roles with freshman Christina Trickett and senior Maddy John.
“We tried to put them under pressure in the first half, but obviously Walsh is a fantastic soccer team,” St. Ursula coach Chris Black said. “We did not connect on our passes well enough.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.