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Published: Thursday, 10/11/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Undefeated Yellow Jackets set sights on state title

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Perrysburg's goalie Chloe Buehler blocks a shot earlier this season. Perrysburg's goalie Chloe Buehler blocks a shot earlier this season.
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It's too early to start planning a future reunion for the group making up this year's Perrysburg girls soccer team.

Yet, 10 years from now such a gathering may be quite fitting and they'll commemorate looking back on the 2012 soccer season as one of the fondest memories of their lives.

Ranked No. 1 in Ohio in Division I, the Yellow Jackets began the week with a 14-0 record and needing only wins over Maumee and North Royalton to close out the regular season with an unblemished record.

Perrysburg won its third Northern Lakes League title with a 3-0 victory over Maumee on Wednesday night.

"I think our best games are yet to come," said Perrysburg co-coach Jorge Diaz, who is in his second season sharing the duties with Margaret Bernard. "We really want to make a big deal about the tournament that is upcoming. I think we're going to make a good run."

The Yellow Jackets' roster is deep on talent and loaded with experience. Many are returners from last year's team that suffered a disappointing loss in a regional semifinal after being ranked among the top five teams in the state for much of the year.

Perrysburg senior Maddy Williams already has the single-season school record with 35 goals this year. Perrysburg senior Maddy Williams already has the single-season school record with 35 goals this year.
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Senior forward Maddy Williams is the centerpiece of perhaps the most talented team in the program's history.

A clear frontrunner for Division I state player of the year, Williams began the week having already scored a single- season school-record 35 goals.

That ranks second in the state in Division I to Madison's Julie Gavorski (40) and third best among all divisions.

Williams is one of three seniors with plans to play Division I college soccer next year. She will attend Purdue, while goalkeeper Chloe Buehler is headed to Penn State, and Mollie Whitacre to Ohio.

Williams has proven to be more than just a goal-scoring machine. She's been a major distributor of the ball, producing a team-best eight assists.

"Maddy is just playing phenomenally well," Bernard said. "She comes out and she's scored in every game we've had this season. She really does make a difference in the game.

"Not only can she be defended by multiple players and still score, she's just as good getting assists and setting up other players. She creates opportunities for other players and she's just tough for other teams to defend against."

Perrysburg coach Jorge Diaz patrols the sidelines earlier this year. Perrysburg coach Jorge Diaz patrols the sidelines earlier this year.
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Diaz believes Williams outperforms her competition partly because of her physical skills, and partly because of her understanding of how to play the game.

"She's very, very fast," Diaz said. "She knows where the goal is and is moving before the play develops and she knows where to be."

Williams plays the game only looking to do her part, which is to make the most of her opportunities to help Perrysburg outscore its opponents.

"I get most of the credit because I score, but people don't understand how much effort is put in by the rest of my teammates to make me look good," said Williams, who was All-Ohio second team last year. "I give them all the credit."

The Yellow Jackets' statistics reveal Perrysburg is far from a solo act.

They've outscored their first 14 opponents of the season 74-4 while registering 11 shutouts.

"Their bench is so deep, and they've always got somebody to go to," said Southview coach Amy Knepper about the Yellow Jackets attack. "When you think they've lost a little bit, they just keep getting more players back in. There's no team that can possess the ball the way they do. They play well together and they all play hard."

Buehler has found that serving as the last line of defense is a challenge, as well as an honor.

"There are going to be games in the tournament when I'm going to have to make a bigger impact, but everyone in front of me has been playing great and that's obviously the goal," said Buehler, who has recorded 23 saves this season.

During the second half of many games she's on the sidelines and watching backups (Sarah Baer, 30 saves; Sam Schrader, 25 saves) get playing time.

"She gives us stability in the back and people respect that," Diaz said of Buehler.

But it's the Yellow Jackets' offensive output that has been unstoppable. Williams is one of 14 players to have at least one goal or assist this season.

Allex Brown (9 goals, 3 assists), Lucy Walton (6 goals, 7 assists), Whitacre (5 goals, 5 assists), Josie Fowler (2 goals, 6 assists), and Courtney Clody (4 goals, 1 assist) help make up the rest of the leaders.

Whitacre said the team's chemistry and confidence are the best they've been during her four years.

"We have that No. 1 [ranking] and that target on our backs and are expected to make it to state," Whitacre said. "Anything can happen, but I'm confident we can go very far."

Contact Donald Emmons at: demmons@theblade.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade



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