GENOA – If you are dressing for success these days in Swanton it’s a pretty good bet your wardrobe is overflowing with purples and whites. Not even 24 hours after the Bulldogs’ football team captured their first league title in 20 years, the girls’ soccer team brought home a Division III district championship by outlasting Archbold in a grueling and exhausting contest, 2-1, by outscoring the Streaks 4-3 in a game deciding shootout on Saturday night in Genoa.
It was the third title of the 2015 season for the Lady Dogs to go along with their NWOAL title which they completed in undefeated fashion and their D-III sectional championship they earned last week. In addition to justifying a trophy case expansion project, the win sends them to compete in the regional semifinal for the second time in four years.
“I’m speechless,” said senior standout Jordan Furko who had the two biggest goals of her career in the victory. “I’ve never seen a team come together so well. We won districts my freshman year and this team surpasses it. We have worked so hard for this and now we’re moving on.”
Before Swanton could get to the title game they first had to avenge an earlier loss to the Eastwood Eagles of the Northern Buckeye Conference on Thursday evening. It was a game in which Bulldog coach Jim Dickman had a particular plan his players executed to perfection. “Our plan was to jump on them early,” explained Dickman. “I told them we had to score in the first ten minutes and put them back on their heels.”
Apparently, Shae Hallowell was paying close attention. Less than a minute into the game she fired a shot into the Eagle net to give Swanton the quick goal her coach had wanted. Eastwood recovered to a degree and kept the Bulldog offense at bay until a wild melee in front of the Eagle net resulted in a Swanton goal that did not become official until the referees came together to compare notes on what had just taken place.
The score gave the Dogs a 2-0 lead they eventually took to the half. Hallowell added another goal in the second half and Swanton headed to the title bout with a 3-0 victory.
“We want Archbold,” said Dickman when asked which team he preferred to meet in the finals. “We played Woodmore really early in the season but I know a lot more about Archbold.” And in the second game of the night the Blue Streaks complied with his wishes and beat the Wildcats 3-1 to set up an all NWOAL and all Fulton County matchup.
From the opening whistle it was obvious it was going to be a very physical contest between the two familiar adversaries and it proved to be exactly that with one collision after another, one player after another being knocked to the ground and one yellow card being assessed with several more on the verge of being pulled.
Swanton held the early advantage and fired several shots at the net that Archbold goalkeeper Madison Kohler kept out of the net with incredible leaping deflections. But with a little more than seven minutes to go in the half, Furko, playing back around midfield, saw an opportunity after being awarded a free kick.
“The goalie is never ready if you just go right away,” said Furko. “I saw that the goalie had her back turned and she was yelling at her players so I took the initiative and tried my best.”
She launched a shot from about 40 yards away that sailed over Kohler’s outstretched hands and into the net for a 1-0 Swanton lead with 7:08 to go in the first half. The lead held up until the break but the Streaks would soon respond.
In the second half, Archbold came out on the attack and tied the game with just barely two minutes gone from the clock when, in the middle of a mad scramble in front of the Bulldog goal, Lily Krieger knocked the ball past Torres for a 1-1 score.
Up and down the field the teams went for the next 38 minutes of regulation but nobody could gain an advantage. After a five minute break they battled for another 15, then took a two minute breather and went at it for 15 more, settling nothing. By rule the contest went to the shootout format where each team sends five players to try a shot from a short distance.
Both Swanton and Archbold scored three times after the first four attempts, leaving the outcome to the legs of the last two shooters, Furko for the Bulldogs and Cassi Wyse for the Streaks. Furko’s shot was high to the left of Kohler and into the net while Wyse’s blast was lower and to the right and denied by the quick reflexes and the accurate anticipation of Bulldog net minder Amber Torres sending Swanton on to the next challenge.
“She’s great. Our goalie is great,” said Dickman, commenting on the game winning save. “I don’t what else to say. It was just an awesome game.”
Swanton now travels to Port Clinton on Tuesday to face the Chippewa Chipps. Game time is 7 p.m.
Bill O’Connell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org