BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — It’s been goal scoring by committee this season for the Maumee girls soccer team, with five players all scoring three or more goals through nine games.
While the Panthers have run out to a 5-4 record, with three wins in their last four games, they have forced opponents to pick their poison on who to guard or target. With Maumee, that situation isn’t easy to solve.
Since the Panthers started league play two weeks ago, senior Julia Findling has led the way with six goals and two assists, giving her a team-high eight goals. In last week’s 6-3 win over Otsego in a Northern Buckeye Conference tilt, Findling had three goals.
With other top goal scorers missing games due to injury, Panthers coach Jeremiah McNutt said Findling has stepped up at the perfect moment.
“Julia is starting to reach the potential I always knew she had,” he said. “My hope is that when we are full squad, Julia becomes a 3 and 3 player; by that I mean 3 goals and 3 assists a game. That is a lot to ask but very doable for her.”
Addison Bertsch, Charley Bischoff and Teagan Kennedy also scored in the win over the Knights, which pushed Maumee’s record to 2-0 in the conference.
“(In) each conference game, I stress to the girls that every team in the NBC is coming for us,” McNutt said. “And, of course, I want us to have a good showing in the new league, so those are the games that mean the most.”
Maumee has also gotten it done with a freshman at goalkeeper, but McNutt warned to not judge Lauren Liwo just on her grade. With Liwo’s travel experience and the support of the upperclassmen around her, age is just a number.
“A goalkeeper’s age doesn’t come into question,” he said. “Lauren is a very capable goalkeeper with a lot of experience in front of her, and with a lot of high-level travel experience, she has adjusted very well.
“With a freshman goalkeeper, you have to expect freshman mistakes, as long as they learn from them.”
Liwo has appeared in eight of the nine games for Maumee with five wins and 2-1/2 shutouts. She has allowed fewer than two goals per game with 37 saves.
The Panthers ended the week with a 2-0 loss to Celina, which checked in last week at No. 4 in the Northwest Ohio Division II district rankings, two spots ahead of Maumee.
With a perfect record in the conference so far, the Panthers appear to be on a collision course with five-time defending NBC champion Eastwood; Maumee travels to face the Eagles on Thursday, September 28.
First things first, though – McNutt has his players focused on the task at hand.
“As for Eastwood, they are the team to beat,” he said. “We first have to focus on Genoa and Oak Harbor, two teams that are also strong this year. So as I tell the girls, only think about the next game. For us that is Genoa.”