Published: Friday, October 6, 2006
Howland beats Canfield for fifth straight crown
The Tigers wrapped up the MAC title with their 2-0 victory.
By DOUG CHAPIN
HOWLAND The Howland High girls soccer team captured a fifth straight Metro Athletic Conference title with a 2-0 victory Thursday over Canfield.
Tiger seniors Melissa Kohn, Chelsea Palma, Laura Sefcik, Kaylin Hovance and Britany Martorana never lost a MAC varsity contest during their four years in the program.
"They're definitely the leaders of our team," coach Pat Hovance said.
Martorana had an assist on Howland's first goal as the Tigers (10-0-2, 9-0-1) defeated Canfield for the second time in four nights. The seniors acknowledge the support of the underclassmen in the program.
"The younger girls definitely stepped up and supported us this year," Kohn said.
"They want to keep the tradition going," Kaylin Hovance added.
Juniors Meagan McLaughlin, the Tigers' keeper, and Deja Amato, who plays in the center of the Howland defense, definitely are keeping the tradition going. McLaughlin posted her 11th shutout of the season, tying the school's single-season record. She was credited with three saves Thursday.
Amato, who missed the Tigers' scoreless tie with Poland a couple of weeks ago, always seems to be in the right place at the right time, and she usually makes the right decision when she gets there.
Sophomores Meagan Long and Abby Nicholas scored the Howland goals. Long tallied with 33:28 remaining in the first half off a long cross from Martorana, who was set up nicely by junior Carmen Alberini's through ball.
The goal by Nicholas came with 21:09 left in the match. Junior Stephanie Keul placed a free kick from about 30 yards out right in front of the goal where Nicholas got her foot on it and knocked it in.
The shots were even 6-6 at halftime, but Howland held a 7-2 advantage in shots in the second half.
The Tigers looked to have scored a second goal with 28:47 left in the first half when Long tallied off a corner kick, but the goal was waved off on an offsides call.
Canfield's Molly Martin hit the crossbar off a direct kick from about 20 yards out with about 17 minutes remaining. In the ensuing scramble, the ball came back out to Martin, but McLaughlin made the save on the shot from the top of the penalty area.
The Cardinals (8-4-1, 5-4-1) had two second half opportunities. McLaughlin came out to stop Cassie Seeman at about the 22-minute mark after Seeman had worked her way through the Howland defense. Alberini then blocked a shot by Canfield's Kaley Donovan inside the penalty area with about nine minutes remaining.
"We knew they would come at us and give us all that they've got since we just beat them Monday," Sefcik said. "We had to play just as tough as they did."
Coach Hovance talked about the unusual schedule brought about because of a postponement and how it affected his team.
"It was definitely difficult. You want to avoid a letdown," he said. "You can start feeling pretty good about yourself, especially after winning the first game at their place. The girls all stepped up, though. We played 18 girls tonight and they all gave it everything they had."
"We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game and I thought we played better than Monday night when we lost 1-0," Cardinal coach Tim Wensel said. "We came out and moved the ball better as a team."