With a 4-0 win over Perry on Thursday and some help from Beachwood, Cuyahoga Heights won the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title for the first time since 2015.
The Redskins tied Wickliffe with a 4-1-1 league record but beat the Blue Devils in a head-to-head matchup on Sept. 6.
“Winning the title this year was actually unexpected,” said Cuyahoga Heights coach Christy Zawadzki. “We knew that Wickliffe and Berkshire were returning strong teams for this season so it would be tough. Last year was a rough one for us, so we knew it would take a lot of hard work to try and be competitive. We also knew that Beachwood was getting a great freshman class that would make an immediate impact, which they have definitely done, and Independence, as our crosstown rival, always provides a tough game. With Perry and Cardinal being added this year, we didn’t know what to expect.”
A 1-0 loss to Independence on Aug. 30 left the Redskins at 1-1 in league play.
“We approached our season as one in which we were just going to work hard and see what happened,” Zawadzki said. “After an early loss to Independence, a game in which we had many chances but Independence’s incredible goalie stymied our offense, we knew winning the conference would be next to impossible with most of the conference games left to be played. We decided to start our season over and work even harder to make sure we treated every game as a playoff game–win or go home.”
The Redskins responded with a 6-1 win over Wickliffe, a 2-2 draw with Berkshire and a 3-1 win over Beachwood.
Cuyahoga Heights went into its final league game of the year with a 3-1-1 record and rooting for Beachwood to upset Independence.
An Independence win would have clinched the title outright for the Blue Devils while a tie left the door open for the Redskins to earn a share of the crown.
Beachwood stunned the Blue Devils on Thursday, 2-1, leaving Cuyahoga Heights and Wickliffe tied for first place. League bylaws state a two-team tie is broken using the head-to-head result.
“The biggest difference for our team this year is that we have eight senior leaders,” Zawadzki said. “Their experience has been huge in close games. Plus, these girls have made sure that the freshmen and the rest of the team are comfortable with each other. We did a team camp this past summer which enabled them to bond as a team much earlier. They genuinely care about each other, are friends and have each other’s backs. Practices are fun and you can tell that they like being around each other.”
Regan Sturgill leads the team with 55 points—23 goals and 9 assists—while Brooke Wilson and Julia Harris have recorded 50 and 33 points, respectively. Wilson is second on the team with 17 goals and also has posted a team-high 16 assists. Harris has scored 12 goals with nine assists.
Seven different Redskins have scored a goal this season and an impressive 10 have at least one assist.
Megan Ellis has recorded 45 saves in goal.
“These girls are incredible to coach,” Zawadzki said. “However, we could never be a team without my assistant coach, Steve Griffen. He is an incredible person, coach and mentor for these girls. Without him and the support of our parents, administrators and fans, we wouldn’t enjoy playing the game as much as we do.”
Cuyahoga Heights closes out the regular season with non-conference games against Fairview and Eastlake North.
The Redskins hope to add to their six-match win streak heading into the postseason.
“In terms of our confidence heading into the playoffs, every coach will tell you that everybody is happier and more confident when you are winning,” Zawadzki said. “However, we as a team are aware that on any given day things can happen that change the course of a game. We know to never underestimate any opponent we play. We will work as hard as we can to have success but also to have fun and enjoy each other as teammates.”