Written by Matt Mulcahey Enquirer contributor
Nov. 5, 2013 |cincinnati.com http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20131105/SPT0301/311050177/Mason-girls-back-in-final-on-Knue-s-overtime-goal
BELLBROOK, OHIO — A sense of déjà vu permeated Tuesday’s Division I soccer state semifinal at Bellbrook High School.
That was just fine by the Mason Comets, who would happily relive the game’s result every season into eternity.
For the second consecutive year, the Comets beat Pickerington North, 1-0, in the first overtime period to advance to the state championship game.
The winning score came with two minutes left in overtime when a shot from senior forward Chloe Knue emerged from a cluster of players in the center of the pitch 15 yards out and slammed into the lower right corner of the net.
Junior forward Rachel Holloway started the scoring play by beating her defender wide off the dribble and then crossing the ball back into the center.
“A little chaos ensued (after that),” Mason coach Andy Schur said. “(Senior forward) Taylor Sheppard kind of got a little touch on the ball and then it wound up on our best goal scorer’s foot and we’re very happy that it did.” The Comets advance to Friday’s championship game at Columbus Crew Stadium, where they’ll face Walsh Jesuit (19-0-3), which beat Rocky River Magnificat 1-0 in the other semifinal.
Mason (18-2-2) enters that title game with a streak of six consecutive postseason shutouts. That’s more than eight hours of playoff soccer without yielding a single goal.
“Our defense has played so strong, and it’s not just our backline. Our midfield has done a great job of helping defensively,” Schur said.
Pickerington North (19-1-1) had two golden opportunities to end Mason’s shutout streak.
The first came in the 34th minute when a tripping call gave Panthers senior forward Morgan Bittengle a penalty kick.
Bittengle booted that kick right down the middle, where it landed in the breadbasket of Mason sophomore keeper Toni Bizzarro without her having to move an inch.
The Panthers’ last, best chance came in the 86th minute when a shot by junior forward Megan Marasco deflected – in seeming defiance of the laws of physics – off the top right corner of the goalpost and out of play.
“In a match like this when both teams are really high-quality and hard workers, it’s probably going to come down to one play,” Schur said. “They hit the post and got a little unlucky and we were able to stick one in there.”
STAR OF THE GAME: Knue. The senior has scored 16 of the Comets’ 42 goals this year. That’s nearly 40 percent.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Toni Bizzarro’s penalty kick save.
“It was obviously a big moment for us,” Schur said. “She’s just very solid back there and the kids believe in everything she does.”
QUOTABLE: Schur on his team’s back-to-back state title appearances: “It’s been a combination of great kids coming into the program, the kids buying into what we’re doing and a little bit of luck, too. But all the credit for the success goes to the kids and how hard they work.”
Knue on the role depth played in the Comets’ victory: “Our subs wear other teams out and I think that really does help us when we have fresh legs running at the defense every few minutes.”
FREE KICKS: Pickerington North entered the game with 93 goals this year, more than double the Comets’ offensive output. ... Mason lost to Perrysburg, 1-0, in last year’s title game, which was the first in Comets history.