WICKLIFFE—Brooke Wilson scored a pair of goals to lead Cuyahoga Heights to a 2-1 win at Wickliffe in a Division III district semifinal on Monday.
“That’s a huge win for us,” Cuyahoga Heights coach Christy Zawadzki said. “They’re a great team. Steve (Gribovicz) does a great job preparing them so we knew this was going to be a fight.”
The Redskins previously defeated the Blue Devils in the regular season, 6-1, but entered the playoffs as the No. 3 seed. Wickliffe earned the No. 2 spot.
“That first game was one of those freaks of nature,” Zawadzki said. “We knew they were a better team than that game was. We knew this was going to be a battle. It was all about keeping our girls mentally prepared and wanting it more.”
Wilson’s first goal game near the midway point of the first half when she finished off a pass from Julia Harris.
That 1-0 lead held until the second half.
“We said at halftime this game was going to come down to who wanted it more in the end,” Zawadzki said. “Shout out to Wickliffe; they’ve been a great team all these years.”
Wilson placed her second goal over the outreached hands of Wickliffe keeper Kaylee Lauriel to give the Redskins a two-goal advantage with 34:07 left in the game.
“We’re always team-centered and everybody is involved in every play,” Zawadzki said. “Brooke scored the goals but every one of the girls on the field contributed to those goals.”
While the Redskins held the advantage on the scoreboard, the Blue Devils mounted an attack in the final 20 minutes of the contest that repeatedly tested Cuyahoga Heights freshman goalkeeper Lily Frank, who finished with three saves.
“It’s pretty impressive to be that composed, especially in the last two minutes,” Zawadzki said. “They make it hard on an old coach like me. My heart fails when they score in the last two minutes but she kept her composure.”
Wickliffe’s Amy Apgar finished off a Morgan Gabriel corner kick to pull Wickliffe to within 2-1 with 2:42 left in regulation.
The Blue Devils continued to possess the ball in Cuyahoga Heights territory and even fired off a great shot with 10 seconds left in the game but Frank made an even better save to preserve the win.
“We got a goal in the last three minutes of the game and gave ourselves a chance with 10 seconds left,” Gribovicz said. “We had a shot on goal and their keeper made a very good save. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t fall your way. They made more out of the opportunities they had than what we had but we gave one heck of an effort. They played a heck of a game. That’s what soccer is all about. There’s only going to be one team that advances.”
Cuyahoga Heights improved to 15-2-2 on the year. The Redskins advanced to Thursday’s district championship game against Kirtland at a site to be determined.
The Blue Devils closed out the year with a 14-3-1 mark. The Wickliffe seniors finished their careers as the winningest class in school history with 50 wins.
“I’m very proud of each and every one of them for the effort they have given over the last four years and especially this year as the leaders of the team,” Gribovicz said. “It’s going to be hard to replace them.”