By Rob Kiser
CASSTOWN — The Miami East girls soccer team had an untypical season a year ago, mainly due to injuries.
With a young team that gets better with each game, Lady Vikings coach Emalie Carson looked forward to having state-ranked Lehman Catholic visit the East pitch just before this week’s tournament draw Monday night.
And the Lady Vikings made a big statement with Emily Holicki’s long shot goal being the difference in a 1-0 Miami East victory over the fifth-ranked D-III team in Ohio.
“We had nine seniors last year,” Carson said. “We have a lot of freshman playing and we struggled a little bit early in the season. This is (a huge win for East).”
In the process, it may force some D-III soccer coaches to re-think their voting for seeds this week.
Miami East improved to 9-4-0, while Lehman dropped to 8-4-1.
“A lot of the coaches I talked to said they had us as 3-4-5 seed, depending on how we did tonight,” Carson said. “I think this may give some coaches problems (with the seeding).”
Lehman coach Jeremy Lorenzo agreed.
“I think Miami East is going to be seeded higher than they think,” he said. “Obviously, we are not going to get the number one seed now. That really doesn’t matter. We just need to go out and win games.”
Lorenzo didn’t want to use the absence of four-year starter Sara Fuller as an excuse.
“She is our leading scorer, she is a captain — but she is banged up right now,” Lorenzo said. “Miami East was banged up earlier in the season and had a few hiccups. They are healthy now. We have some young girls who can step up and they did.”
Neither team had any good scoring chances in the first half, as both teams took just five shots in the game.
“I knew it was going to be a close game,” Carson said.
It remained scoreless until Holicki took a pass from Savannah Nehring with 13.50 to go in the game and drilled a shot from 30 yards into the upper left corner of the goal.
“Usually, she scores from inside the 18,” Carson said. “But, I will take it.”
There was no way for Lehman keeper Kelsey Weber to reach the perfectly-placed shot.
“To me, that shot in the upper left, that was not a savable ball,” Lorenzo said. “I thought Kelsey (Weber) played well tonight. There was no way for her to reach that shot.”
Lehman intensified its push after that, but East was up to the challenge.
The Lady Cavaliers had eight corner kicks in the second half, but could not convert on any.
Lehman’s best chance to score came on a shot that East goalie Katie Bodenmiller was able to just tip over the goal.
“When Katie (Bodenmiller) tipped that ball, that saved the game for us,” Carson said.
Carson had to hold her breath as Lehman had one final corner kick in the final 20 seconds, but the shot sailed just high and hit off the goal post.
“It was (scary),” Carson said. “Especially, because we haven’t defended those (corner kicks) particularly well this year. I am really proud of this team and that was a big win.”
East is off until hosting Springfield Shawnee Monday, while Lehman will regroup quickly for a home game with Coldwater Thursday — with bigger games ahead.
“I am sure we will meet East again — and soon,” Lorenzo said.
Which should make for another thriller between two of the best D-III girls soccer teams in the area — with even more at stake.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.