Story by Jim Horvath
Photos and video by Larry Bennet
In the 65th minute of a scoreless game, the Medina Bees scored the goal that wasn't.
Minutes later, the Magnificat Blue Streaks put one in that counted.
Magnificat scored twice in the final 6:34 of regulation to come away with a hard-fought 2-0 win over the Bees in the Division I girls regional soccer semifinal Tuesday night at Bay Memorial Stadium. The win put the Blue Streaks in the regional title game for the second time in program history.
On Saturday at 3 p.m., the Blue Streaks will face Whitehouse Anthony Wayne, a 2-0 winner over Toledo Notre Dame Academy Tuesday night. Anthony Wayne will come into the game at Perkins High School with a record of 14-3-2.
Magnificat raised its record to 15-4-1 and remained unscored upon in four tournament games. But that streak, along with possibly the season, nearly came to an end late in the second half.
In the 65th minute of a scoreless game, Medina sophomore Elizabeth Ash played the ball, turned and zipped a line drive shot that hit the crossbar over the leaping save attempt by Blue Streak goalkeeper Kaleigh Pisconeri. The ball looked to fall straight down, then knocked into the goal by midfielder Lauren Rafie.
But the linesman on the near side raised his flag for the offsides call, negating the goal and keeping the game scoreless.
"That was unbelievable," admitted Magnificat head coach Gretchen Micklitsch. "It was worrisome because there were a few times before that where the referee didn't see his linesman make the call, so I was glad he saw that one. It was a tough call."
Medina head coach Doug Coreno felt his team had some momentum swinging its way in the second half.
"I thought we came out after halftime and really put them under pressure," he said.
"We had several great chances that we created to score, and we unfortunately had a goal called back. I really felt like we were getting out of here with a 1-0 win the way we were playing in the second half.
"An unfortunate breakdown on our part put them up 1-0, and I give them credit. They're a good team. They have a lot of skillful individuals, and they're deserving. It was a good match," he said.
As it turned out, it was the Blue Streaks who found the back of the net first with 6:34 left in regulation.
The ball was played to midfielder Alyssa Baumbick, who was in front of the goal and near the middle of the box. She passed the ball to her right to fellow sophomore Evelyn Lavelle, who shot the ball past Medina keeper Jordan Reynolds.
Micklitsch said she knew how important getting the first goal would be as the game went on.
"I thought both teams were very good, and it was a fast game," she said. "It really was a matter of who scored first, because at that point it becomes so mental. It would be hard for the other team to keep up the pace and the intensity knowing they now had to catch up.
"It really came down to who was going to break through first," she said.
Magnificat added an insurance goal with 1:20 remaining when senior Jaycie Brown scored off an assist from senior teammate Natalie Coury.
"We knew Medina was quick on transition, and that's the way they score a lot of their goals," Micklitsch said. "They're hard to keep up with, so we knew that was coming.
"We worked on that in practice and talked to the girls about needing to transition quickly But on the flip side the team that transitions quickly is also vulnerable to the same thing. We knew our opportunity would come, it was just a matter of time.
"In the first half we had more opportunities than they did. It was just a matter of getting the ball in the net. But I felt confident it was going to happen. In the earlier part of the season that wasn't happening, and now it's happening at the right time," she said.
That was evident just days ago when the Blue Streaks erupted for a 6-0 win over Westlake in the Rocky River District championship game. In four tournament games, Magnificat has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 15-0.
"I was thinking about having that game right before this was good for us," Micklitsch said. "Especially for some some of our girls like Natalie Coury, who went through a dry spell in the middle part of the season where she couldn't get the ball in the net. And now the flood gates have opened for her, and she got three goals on Saturday.
"For her, that was huge. The timing is good. I talked about that at the beginning of the season, hoping that we would peak at the right time. That was my goal. If we were winning every game and looking fabulous all season long, that's good.
"But when it really counts is now, so I'm glad that it's happening at the right time," she concluded.
Medina had its season end at 13-4-3.
"I thought they had a bit better of the run of play in the first half, but I really felt we came out and adjusted and were just all over them for a lot of the second half," Coreno said. "I really felt like a goal was coming, and unfortunately we couldn't get one.
"Typically in a game like this, each team is going to get three or four really good opportunities," he said. "You hope to capitalize on one or two of them, and they did. We were so close, and the one we did capitalize on got called back.
"It was a good soccer match. A lot of props to Mags, they played hard. And I'm just so proud of my girls. We played our hearts out. We had a great year, and it's unfortunate it has to end," he added.
Click on the cameras below for photos and video highlights of this game: