WADSWORTH — Brunswick girls soccer coach Scott Ward saw something in his team five weeks ago.
Fourth-seeded Wadsworth found out what it was Thursday, when the fifth-seeded Blue Devils won 1-0 in a Medina Division I Sectional final.
Ward ironically saw success during a four-game winless streak. Flash back to Sept. 13, when the Blue Devils (10-4-4) had just lost 4-0 to Strongsville.
They did so without Sam Grabowski in net and Caylee Jozefov at midfield. Maddy Grabowski was just back from injury, as was Ariella Pitty.
“If anyone was watching, the game was still close,” Ward said. “Until those last few minutes, it was a pretty even match. We can take what we learned when we face them again. We’ll be healthy then and we’ll be able to bring back our starting lineup.”
Ward was right, as all four players are healthy and Brunswick is cruising.
The Blue Devils have won three in a row and four of their last five. They haven’t given up a goal since Oct. 9.
“I knew with this team from goalie all the way up, from bench players, from everyone, that they weren’t going to give up,” Ward said. “It was going to take a little bit of time to keep building. There was no drama. It took us a little bit longer to gel, but they’re there at the right time.”
Brunswick’s prize, as fate would have it, is a rematch at top-seeded Strongsville (12-1-4) on Monday.
The Blue Devils wouldn’t be in this position without fantastic defense by Sam Grabowksi, Jordyn Wickes, Alexandra Flowers, Maddy Grabowski and Mariah Kimble.
They also wouldn’t be making their fifth straight district appearance without the incredible vision of Maddy Grabowski, who saw Wadsworth keeper Jordan Barnhart cheating out of net and put one over the senior’s head on a free kick from 50 yards near the end of the first half.
“It gave us a little bit of confidence,” Maddy Grabowski said. “It made us realize we were definitely in this game. We could make it farther than everyone thought we could.”
The Blue Devils wouldn’t be advancing without laser-focus from Sam Grabowski, who stopped two point-blank shots in succession. Kimble added to the exclamation point by staying put on the back post to thwart a shot by Teddi Farson.
“We work very well together as a team,” Kimble said. “We have great speed in the back and we talk. We keep communication flowing and make sure if someone steps up, another drops back. We cover for each other. Even if the outside backs step forward, we keep our shape.”
While the Grizzlies’ season ended early, they penned the blueprint moving forward.
A squad that won five games three seasons ago, Wadsworth’s 13 victories this year were the most since 2011 (16).
Graduation will hit hard with 10 seniors, but the Grizzlies finished runners-up in the Suburban League National Conference last year and won it this year.
“Over the years, we’ve really grown stronger as a team on and off the field,” Wadsworth senior defender Katie Hibinger said. “I think that really helped. We know how each other plays, and that was definitely a big aspect of our game. They’ll have to step it up next year. It’s a great class. I’m so confident in them.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.
Brunswick 1, Wadsworth 0
Medina Division I Sectional Final
BRUNSWICK 1 0 — 1
WADSWORTH 0 0 — 0
B — Maddy Grabowski, 7:18.
Shots on goal — Wadsworth 3, Brunswick 7. Corner kicks — Brunswick 6, Wadsworth 2. Saves — Sam Grabowski (B) 2, Jordan Barnhart (W) 6. Records — Brunswick (10-4-4), Wadsworth (13-3-1).