HUBER HEIGHTS — The Carroll Patriots won another close match in the playoffs, defeating Hamilton Ross 1-0 to win the Division II District Championship, Thursday at Wayne High School.
Carroll (15-4-1) dominated time of possession in the first half, but couldn’t get any shots by Ross (13-6-1) keeper Katie Hansen.
The Patriots, who beat third-seeded Bellbrook 1-0 in double-overtime and the no. 2 seed Tipp City Tippecanoe 2-0, weren’t flustered by Ross’s stout defense. The second half was similar to the first half. Carroll had 10 shots on goal compared to just two from the Rams.
“It helped a lot, I think. You probably want to blow them all out, but this is nice because it gives you that belief that you’ve been there before and you can do it again,” said Carroll coach Sarah Flach about the team’s experience in close games. “We knew that it was probably going to be a one-goal game, so we knew that we can’t be leaving chances on the field like we did in the first half.”
With 19:45 left to play, Carroll captain Mia Raiff put a free kick in play to Abby McNamara right in front of the Rams’ goal. McNamara kicked the ball high and missed, jumping up and down in frustration. But with 15:20 remaining in the game, Hannah Ritter found McNamara who kicked the ball into Hansen. The ball deflected off Hansen and slowly rolled into the goal. Hansen was injured on the play.
“At halftime, I give our coaches credit. They pumped us up and said we’ve had chance after chance this game, this is in our hands,” said McNamara, who has verbally committed to Wake Forest. “We just had to find the moment to put it in the net and we did it. We just didn’t give up and we were finally able to put the ball away.”
“That’s just what big players do,” said Flach. “They come through when you need it, and that’s what she’s done for us all season long. She carries a lot of our weight, and you never see it affect her.”
Ross put the pressure on the Patriots in the final 15 minutes, but Carroll was able to defend well and hold on to the lead. The game got a little chippy down the stretch. The referees issued three yellow yards in the final three minutes.
According to Flach, the girls soccer team hadn’t won a District Championship since 1997.
“I was born in 1999, I wasn’t even alive when we last won. It’s really nice to try and put a name in for our program. It’s really good to show that the girls side of our program can win and can battle. I’m really excited to see what happens this season,” said McNamara.
Carroll plays Oakwood in the regional matchup 7 p.m. Tuesday at a site that still needs to be determined.
“Our rule is that we celebrate until midnight, and then at 12:01 we focus on the next game. So we’re going to enjoy it for a couple more hours here,” said Flach.