COLUMBUS — Making history should never be easy, and the unstoppable Perrysburg girls soccer team was finally challenged before the Yellow Jackets persevered to post an unprecedented feat.
Perrysburg became the first girls program from northwest Ohio to win a state soccer title with a tense 1-0 victory over Mason in a Division I championship game on Friday night. The Yellow Jackets captured the school’s first state title in any sport since 1991 with a tight victory in the contest at Columbus Crew Stadium.
Gifted senior forward Maddy “The Magician” Williams scored the only goal. Williams scored near the midpoint of the first half on a penalty kick. She finished her senior season with an astonishing 48 goals and scored in every game but one.
Senior netminder Chloe “The Goalie” Buehler was phenomenal throughout the contest. Buehler made several diving and leaping saves. She finished with nine saves and faced 25 shots overall.
HACKENBERG COLUMN: Chloe 'The Goalie' a rock for the Jackets
“I had to come up big a few times, and we’re state champs,” said a beaming Buehler after the game with a medal around her neck. “There is no better feeling. I ignored everything around me. The ultimate goal was not to have the ball in the net, and we accomplished that.”
Williams scored with 15:25 left in the first half on the free kick. Williams, who will play next season at Purdue University, set up the first goal with relentlessness as she battled a Comet defender one on one to draw the penalty shot. She then made no mistake from 12 yards out to send the large Perrsyburg contingent into a frenzy.
“I just want to go hug everyone I’m in such a good mood,” Williams said. “This is like living a dream. I love this group of girls so much. They are like my family.”
Perrysburg (23-0-0) was ranked No. 1 all year and trailed just once all season. The Yellow Jackets outscored their foes 108-5. But unranked Mason, which finished with a 9-5 edge in shots, proved to be the biggest obstacle as it constantly pressured and kept the ball in the Perrysburg end.
“We knew it was going to be a nail-biter,” Yellow Jackets co-head coach Jorge Diaz said. “It was an awesome game to watch and coach. I’m very emotional right now because we really worked very hard, and we had this goal from day one. It’s amazing it came true.”
Destiny seemed to be on Perrysburg’s side as the Comets hit two posts and one crossbar.
Buehler, who will play at Penn State, jumped to make a save and then dove for another during a 40-second span late in the game to maintain the slim lead. Buehler then snatched the ball out of midair to prevent a goal with 3:35 left.
“Chloe is absolutely our MVP,” co-head coach Margaret Bernard said. “She really is an awesome goalie. She really stepped up and made some big saves today.”
Perrysburg trailed just once this season, 1-0, to Gahanna Lincoln on Sept. 8 before rallying for a 4-2 win. Buehler, who missed 10 games with a back injury before returning full time for the last 11 games, yielded only two goals all season and never trailed.
Buehler came out to beat a free Comet forward to a loose ball to keep the one-goal lead late in the first half. Buehler then made the save of the half when she got a hand on a point-blank shot by Madison Melnick, who had two great shots in the game.
“This is the closest game we’ve ever had,” Williams said. “We’ve never won by just one goal before. Chloe is amazing. She is my hero. She should get MVP. They came out fighting, but we came out on top.”
Perrysburg was only the second team from northwest Ohio to reach the girls title game. St. Ursula made it last year.
Mason, a suburban school from the Cincinnati area, also was playing in its first state title game. The Comets controlled play and had 26 shots toward the net overall.
“It’s crushing,” Mason coach Andy Schur said. “But give Perrysburg credit, their keeper is a really impressive player. She was the star of the match. We had the better of the chances this evening, but it was Perrysburg’s night.”
Diaz said when he woke up yesterday morning his yard was completely filled with soccer balls.
“The way the community and parents have come together this way is amazing,” he said. “I’m so blessed to coach this team.”
Williams had Perrysburg’s first quality chance of the match as she set up her own shot, but Mason goalie Toni Bazzaroo (four saves) made a diving save. Buehler made the best save of the second half when she come out to stop a solo breakaway by Melnick early on. Williams then had three straight quality chances for Perrysburg late in the game. Mason countered when Melnick’s shot deflected off the crossbar with 16:59.
Perrysburg’s 23-game winning streak is fourth longest in Ohio history. The Yellow Jackets also had captured state titles in 1991 (softball) and 1979 (volleyball).
“This is the furthest you can go,” Williams said. “We won it all. It’s so awesome I can’t even describe it. This is the best way to go out.”
Contact Mark Monroe at:firstname.lastname@example.org,419-724-6354 or onTwitter @MonroeBlade.