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“Awesome” is an overused word, as far as Perrysburg High School Principal Michael Short is concerned. It should be reserved, he said, for wondrous acts of nature and breath-taking views.
And the Yellow Jackets girls soccer team.
“Please join me in congratulating your Lady Jackets, state championship soccer team,” Mr. Short said to thunderous applause at a student pep rally Monday in the high school gymnasium.
Perrysburg beat Mason 1-0 on Friday in Columbus, capping an undefeated season (23-0) and bringing home the first girls soccer Division I crown to northwest Ohio.
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“They have a good work ethic,” Perrysburg senior Josh Kemp said at the rally. He knows just how much work it takes as a member of the boys soccer team.
Boys soccer made a run at the Division I state title in 2001, finishing as the runner-up. But it’s been since the 1991 softball team that a Perrysburg sport added the ultimate trophy to the school case.
“It was a pleasure coaching them,” co-coach Jorge Diaz said of this year’s girls soccer team.
Star player Maddy Williams, who scored the winning penalty kick in the state title match, said the pep rally was a culmination of the support the team received throughout its season.
“It shows how much everyone cares about our team sports,” she said.
A special alumnus of Perrysburg High School was among the dignitaries at the pep rally.
“Everyone's extremely proud of your accomplishments and how you represented your community,” Perrysburg Mayor Nelson Evans, class of 1972, told the victors.
He presented each team member with a Mayor's Honorary Coin for Excellence, stamped to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
While Fort Meigs might have seemed minor in the scope of the entire war, he said of the Perrysburg battle, it sparked the future growth of the city, and the girls’ efforts on the soccer field could spur the dedication needed in all the challenges and opportunities their futures would bring, Mr. Evans said.
The Yellow Jackets scored 108 points over the season but allowed only 5 points to be scored against them, thanks in great part to the steely efforts of goalie Chloe Buehler.
The gymnasium erupted in cheers as Coach Diaz introduced each player, starting with jersey No. 1 — Buehler. Co-coach Margaret Bernard said the student section at their games was the best she has ever seen.
“I really want to thank everybody,” she said.
Players expressed gratitude for their coaches, as well. “They’re our rock,” player Alexa Long said.
Teammate Alexa Camp said the coaches were different in their coaching styles and strengths, but that both are really good at what they do, and that they helped the team find balance on an emotional level.
“They knew how to be fun and know how to be serious, and I think that’s why we went so far,” she said.
Coach Diaz said that of the six seniors on the team, four were starters. “They’re going to be very difficult to replace because of their contributions,” he said.
However, he said, 16 players were returning, and the program was set up for success.
“We’re very blessed that the whole experience has been embraced by the community,” he said.
Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-356-8786.