WADSWORTH — The girls soccer season is approximately a week old, but Wadsworth and Brunswick faced off in a quality battle that showcased what both teams could be in for.
After leading for much of the match Saturday night, Wadsworth earned a 1-1 tie against the Blue Devils, who are ranked 14th in the nation and second in Ohio by Top Drawer Soccer.
“We knew coming into this game how good Brunswick is,” Grizzlies coach Paul Williford said. “(Getting a lead) let us know we could play with them, but we also knew they would get fired up as well.”
Brunswick (2-0-1) came out with a relentless attack that only grew more intense as it attempted to rally. In the second half, the Blue Devils fired nine shots on goal to only one by the Grizzlies (2-0-1), as most of the action stayed on one end. However, senior goalkeeper Jordan Barnhart led a Wadsworth defensive wall along with sophomore Mackenna Blackburn and juniors Brooke Knapp and Aly Brugh.
“(Our defenders) are phenomenal. They are very young, but they’ve come in so well,” Barnhart said. “They understand the game, and that turns into them being there and they work super hard.”
Midway through the first half, a beautiful pass from junior midfielder Taylor Leatherman found senior midfielder Elizabeth Talabac with plenty of room to operate in front of the goal, and Talabac pushed ahead Wadsworth 1-0 on its first shot on goal.
Wadsworth grasped that advantage until a foul in the box with only nine minutes left in the game sent Blue Devils captain Ariella Pitty in to take a penalty kick. Earlier in the second half, Pitty banged a PK off the left post, but this time she tucked the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.
“When you miss the first PK, you just have to let it go,” Pitty said. “If it’s in your head the whole entire game, you aren’t going to make your next shot.”
“There was never any question who was going to take the second (penalty kick),” Brunswick coach Scott Ward said. “She needs it for her confidence and, even if she missed that one, she’d do the next one. She’s that important to our team, and when it counts in the playoffs, she’ll make those.”
Nearly 30 seconds after the penalty kick, Talabac had a chance to break the tie, but her shot went wide right.
The result gives a boost of confidence to the young Grizzlies but also necessary experience for the Blue Devils, who have their sights set on making this a special season.
“We need those kind of games where we fight through, where everything doesn’t go your way and instead of collapsing, you get better as the game goes on,” Ward said. “So it’s good experience because our ultimate goal is to make a deep run in the playoffs. It’s not to go undefeated in the regular season.”
Wadsworth 1, Brunswick 1
BRUNSWICK 0 1 — 1
WADSWORTH 1 0 — 1
W – Elizabeth Talabac (Taylor Leatherman), 21:32.
B — Ariella Pitty (Penalty Kick), 9:08.
Shots on goal — Brunswick 12, Wadsworth 5. Corner kicks — Brunswick 8, Wadsworth 3. Saves — Jordan Barnhart (Wadsworth) 10, Sammy Grabowski (Brunswick) 4. Records — Wadsworth (2-0-1), Brunswick (2-0-1).