By Rob Kiser
It was the pivotal moment in what has become a traditional Lehman-Miami East girls Division III sectional final Tuesday night at Eaton High School.
Miami East junior Haley Demmitt had just launched a shot from 40 yards into the back of the Lehman net with 34:34 remaining to tie the game 1-1 and stun the top seeded team in the D-III sectional.
But, from there, Lehman responded with the poise you would expect from one of the top ranked D-III teams in the state who had allowed just three goals coming into the game.
And a young Miami East defense would eventually break down, resulting in a 5-1 Lehman win in which the score belies the competitiveness the Lady Vikings showed for much of the game.
Lehman, 15-1-2, will play Madeira on Saturday for the district title at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lemon Monroe High School.
“I think we were rattled there for a few minutes (after the tying goal),” Lehman coach Jeremy Lorenzo said. “Then, I thought we settled down and showed a lot of poise and played the way were capable.”
Miami East finished the season with a mark of 7-6-6.
“We have a young defense,” Miami East coach Lil Carson said. “After Lehman’s second goal, we kind of put our heads down. The last 20 minutes were emotional and that is the way the season has been. It has been a roller coaster. There were a lot of ups and downs.”
The game was still tied 1-1 when Kaitrin O’Leary sent a perfect cross to Liz Pax at the top of the box with 20:56 remaining and Pax was able to get it in the top of the net.
“Kaitrin O’Leary probably hasn’t put up the stats she would like this season,” Lorenzo said. “But, she has been on fire the last three games and she continued that tonight. Liz (Pax) is another senior. She isn’t a started, but she has accepted her role on the team and does a great job.”
Molly Safreed then made two big plays to finish off a big night and put the game away.
Safreed crossed to Grace Monnin with 14:17 remaining to make it 3-1, then scored by sending a laser into the corner of the net to make it 4-1 with 9:53 remaining.
“That’s what makes Molly (Safreed) such a special player,” Lorenzo said. “She has 22 goals and lot of them are plays like that. I have said all along that she is one of the best players in the Miami Valley and she showed that tonight.”
Samantha Edwards finished off the scoring with 26 seconds to go.
She took a short kick on a corner kick along the back line and hooked it perfectly into the net.
“We had some girls that did a nice job finishing,” Lorenzo said. “Miami East is a tough game. It is a rivalry and we had just played them a couple weeks ago.”
In the opening half, the ball was in the Lehman end almost the entire time.
East goalie Katie Bodenmiller made a number of great saves to limit the damage to one goal.
“Bodey (Katie Bodenmiller) has done that for us all year,” Carson said. “If she hadn’t this game would not have been this close — we wouldn’t have had as good a season as we have had even it wasn’t for her.”
Lehman had 13 shots in the first half alone — with the goal coming with 13:44 remaining in the half when Safreed finished on a Hannah Fogt cross.
“That is a play we work on all the time,” Lorenzo said. “The thing (about the first half) is we had a lot of shots, but Miami East had a lot of girls back on defense.”
It stayed 1-0 until the amazing shot by Demmitt to tie the game despite the Lady Vikings being outshot 31-13 on the night.
“It was gorgeous,” Carson said of the shot. “Haley (Demmitt) told me she didn’t know how that shot went in. Lehman had only allowed three goals all year.”
It was exactly what Lorenzo had feared.
“That is the one thing we didn’t want to happen,” he said. “We knew if they scored, it would either be a mistake in back or a long shot off a turnover — and that is exactly what happened.”
But, in the end, Lehman’s poise and experience was too much for a young Miami East backline down the stretch — despite a valiant effort from the upset minded Lady Vikings.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.