By Charlie Warnimont
Sentinel Sports Editor
CONTINENTAL - The goal for most soccer teams is to get on the scoreboard early and try to take their opponent out of their game.
Tuesday evening as Kalida and Continental squared off for the Putnam County League girls soccer title, getting the wind at your back the first half was just as important. The Lady Wildcats accomplished that goal and took advantage of the wind scoring two first half goals on their way to a 3-1 win over the Pirates.
The win allows the Wildcats to finish 4-0-0 in the PCL as they won their fourth straight league title as they shared the title with the Pirates last year. Kalida is 14-0-1 overall. The Pirates finished 2-1-1 in the league and are 10-3-2 overall.
"It's always nice to win the league," Kalida coach David Kehres said. "These seniors are a great group of girls and we told them before the game they had an opportunity to go out as four-time league champs. This puts these seniors in a special class. I'm very proud of these seniors, they have worked hard for four years and that hard work showed off tonight."
Kalida had the wind at their back in the first half and took advantage of it keeping the ball on the Pirates side of the field getting off several shots. While Pirate goalie Leva Weller was able to make several saves in the opening half the Wildcats took a 1-0 nearly 10 minutes into the game.
Freshman Brittany Kahle put Kalida up 1-0 as she settled a ball on the left side of the box and fired a shot to the left side of the goal that snuck past Weller. Summer Holtkamp picked up an assist on the play.
The score remained 1-0 until there was 10:04 left in the half. Sophomore Jackie Gardner took a pass and fired a shot on goal that was blocked. Holtkamp, a senior, was there to pick up the loose ball before the Pirates could clear the miss and she knocked home the rebound. Kalida just missed putting in two more goals in the half as they had a shot bounce off the post and one off the crossbar.
"We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game and with the wind we needed to take advantage of it the first half because you never know what was going to happen the second half," Kehres said. "We wanted to be first on the scoreboard and set the tone. We knew the intensity would be high and they were on their homefield and wanted to defend it. We wanted to possess the ball and finish. We knew they have an excellent goalie in Leva (Weller) and we just wanted to make sure we kept the ball low and we were able to get a couple past her."
While the Wildcats were able to take advantage of the wind the first half, the Pirates didn't have the same luck in the second half. Kalida's defense limited Continental's offense as they were unable to get any good looks on goal.
Kalida put the game out of reach late in the second half as Gardner headed home a pass from Joni Kaufman to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead. The Pirates avoided the shutout when Sloane Zachrich converted a corner kick from Vanessa Koppenhofer with two minutes left.
"It was a frustrating night for us offensively," Continental coach Toby Bidlack said. "We were slow off the ball tonight and they were quick to the ball, especially that first half. They had the wind at their advantage and they combined the win with their energy and we came out flat and that put us in a 2-0 hole. And when you have a team as good defensively as they are, we were in a tough hole to dig out of."
The Wildcats outshot the Pirates 19-3 in the contest.