Panthers Girls Soccer Season Ends In Regional Semifinal

Maumee junior Cait Smalley heads the ball. Smalley made third-team NLL and honorable mention districts.
Senior Haley Hughes makes a save in the regional semifinal. MIRROR PHOTOS BY JODY SMALLEY

BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — When asked what he will remember most about this season, Maumee girls soccer coach Jeremiah McNutt dug a little deeper than just wins and championships and all-league honors.

“There is so much to remember about this season, but the one that will stick with me the most is the turnaround in attitudes,” McNutt said.

“The players believed in themselves, their teammates and in the program. This year they took the first steps to a ‘New Mind Set.’ That is what I will remember.”

Only three girls soccer teams across Ohio will end their season with a win in the state championship game. Everyone else will enter the postseason with a loss.

Despite losing to St. Marys Memorial, 3-0, in a Division II regional semifinal last week, there is no one who believes the Panthers should be hanging their heads.

For the first time since 2013, they won a district championship. Underclass-men Evelyn Boyett and Cait Smalley were named to the competitive All-Northern Lakes League team, while Boyett, Smalley, Ava Leonard and Julia Findling were named All-Northwest District.

It was absolutely a season to remember for Maumee.

“Hopefully this will be the first step in bringing glory back to the Lady Panther soccer program history,” McNutt said.

The Roughriders used two penalty kicks over a 10-minute span in the first half to take a 2-0 lead on the Panthers in the regional semifinal.

“The game against St. Marys was a great experience for the program,” McNutt said. “We knew they would be a strong team. That’s why I like when we play strong teams in the regular season. It prepares you for the challenges in the tournament.

“I try to get the players to look at each game as just a game. Play the way we have all year and we will be fine.

“We were in the game until that 10-minute period of two PKs and a free kick from just outside the box. I truly believe that was a hard period to respond to. but the girls did and kept it at 2-0 for some time.”

That loss cannot dampen or shade the otherwise outstanding accomplishments of the season, which include 10 total wins and NLL victories over Napoleon, Bowling Green and Springfield.

McNutt said he’s already turned the page on the season, however, and has begun working to get even better next year.

“The success of this season will not impact my offseason,” he said. “The very next day after the loss, I was trying to think of ways to improve the program. I do this every year, think about what worked the past season and what we need to improve on; formations, tactics and what positions need to be filled.

“In my eyes, there is always need for improvement, be it our touch, awareness or understanding of the game as a whole.

“The first thing for this offseason is that we’re starting all over, fresh. There is no program goal to make it back to regionals. One good season does not mean we have changed the culture of the program. 

“That will take several seasons to accomplish and I plan on being here to see that happen. These are the same goals for this season, and will be for the next season.”

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