BY ANDY ROWER | MIRROR SPORTS — A second-half goal by Bowling Green senior midfielder Madi Wagner proved to be the difference during a 1-0 Bobcats victory at Maumee on September 18.
The game’s lone score came in the 43rd minute, after the ball advanced to classmate and forward Sydney Maas.
Maas in turn passed the ball to Wagner, who darted to her right before kicking the ball across her body and into the left corner of the Panthers net.
Up to that point in the contest, Bowling Green had only outshot Maumee 8-7, but the goal seemed to only energize the Bobcats offense.
Senior forward Brennan Balkovec, sophomore forward Maddie O’Dell and freshman midfielder Cece Marovich went on to join Macy Ash, Maas and Wagner in outshooting the Panthers 11-5 through the remainder of the contest.
While Maumee players such as senior goalkeeper Leyse Smith, classmates Hailey Binkowski, Chayah Keller, Elantra Waters, junior Olivia Zale and Natalie Winkle and sophomores Autumn Erme, Aubrey Hiles and Lynkin Williams helped to keep any further damage from happening, the Bobcats defense was also up to the challenge of pitching a shutout.
Senior keeper Alex Bellavia posted saves on the Panthers’ lone two shots on goal of the second half.
Those few opportunities were the result of a tireless defensive showing from other Bobcats players such as Ash, Marovich, O’Dell, seniors Emma Grisdale and Mackenzie Fleshman, junior Trena Wiseman-Esparza and sophomores Emma Walker and Ava Werdebaugh.
Though BG began the game as the obvious aggressor, the opening half ended up largely even on both sides of the ball.
The Maumee trio of Keller, Zale and junior midfielder Kelsey Walborn actually edged the Bobcats’ Grisdale, Maas, Marovich and Wagner 7-6 in shot attempts, but defense was the key to the first 40:00.
Bellavia recorded four saves for BG and the Panthers’ Smith was perfect on all three of her attempts.
The stanza saw tremendous defensive play from the Bobcats’ Grisdale, Marovich, Wagner, Walker, Werde-baugh and Wiseman-Esparza and Maumee’s Hiles, Keller, Winkle, sophomore Lily Murphy and freshman Haley Hughes.
Bellavia finished with six saves and Wagner, Marovich and Maas were Bowling Green’s clear offensive leaders on the night, but Marovich could also easily be named the game’s Most Valuable Player for her game-changing defensive work.
Smith went 11-for-12 in save opportunities and Keller and Walborn paced the Panthers offense.
Walborn was unfortunately forced from the game near the end of the first half due to an apparent head injury and did not play the entire second half.
Despite the loss, Zale should be credited for her hustle, as she stood out for Maumee from the opening to the closing whistles.
The Bobcats in due course notched their third win of the season and their first in Northern Lakes League play, while the Panthers dropped to 2-6 (0-4).
Three days later, Maumee posted its third win of the year in a 2-1 game against visiting Ottawa Hills.
After trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Panthers managed to score the tying and go-ahead goals in the second stanza.
Waters knotted things up by converting a free kick before Zale headed the winning goal in after a Walborn corner kick.