CORUNNA — The Ovid-Elsie soccer team did what it usually does Thursday, rolling past Corunna 6-0 in the first round of a Division 3 district tournament at Corunna High School.
But the Cavaliers (3-11-1) gave the Marauders (15-3) all they wanted in the first half, holding Ovid-Elsie to just two goals.
“They came out aggressive and flooded the middle on us,” Ovid-Elsie coach Craig Thelen said. “We kept trying to go up the middle, and obviously that didn’t work. We had a few nerves going on, and we didn’t play up to our capability in the first half.”
After a spirited halftime talk, the Marauders scored early to start the second half. While the Cavaliers competed gamely, Ovid-Elsie began to press its advantage and pulled away with four in the second half.
Josie Nash had a hand in five of Ovid-Elsie’s six goals. She scored four times and assisted on the Marauders’ first goal of the second half, when Kaylee Sutliff scored the first of her two goals in the 43rd minute.
“It was a key turning point,” Corunna coach Blake Golab said. “We spent a little time at halftime talking about the power of that first goal.”
The power was twofold: It put the Cavaliers on their heels while relaxing the Marauders.
“When we click early on, it gives us a little breathing room,” Nash said. “It takes a little pressure off of us, because we’ve shown ourselves that we can definitely score.”
Nash, who now has 34 goals on the year, scored a couple against Corunna after deftly moving the ball through the defense.
“It’s fun to score, but I also like to find my people, my players,” she said. “They position themselves better and we’ve gotten better at that as the season has gone on. We’re finally clicking.”
The Marauders face Mt. Morris in the district semifinals at Durand on Tuesday, likely looking for ways to start much better than on Thursday night.
“They were aggressive and beating us to all the 50-50 balls, and we were more relaxed,” Nash said.
“The first half, we didn’t come out as strong as we were planning to be.”
The Cavaliers wrapped up a season that saw them play several foes in the Flint Metro League, where Corunna will play next season.
“We knew walking in that there were seven or eight matches we could win, and we got three of them and a tie,” Golab said. “In some we didn’t match up well. We didn’t match well with Goodrich or Lake Fenton, because they can exploit our inexperience at some positions.”
A thin talent pool hampers the Cavaliers as well. Despite that, Golab saw progress in his young team, which graduates seven seniors.
“We have some girls who are going to play in college,” Golab said, “and I have girls who walk in as juniors wanting to play soccer (for the first time).”
While the Cavaliers look to the future, the Marauders still have a present, and Thelen was determined to not allow a repeat of Thursday’s slow start. O-E has already beaten Mt. Morris twice during the regular season by a combined score of 18-0.
“I don’t want to look past anybody, because soccer’s a weird game,” he said. “Hopefully we c an stay at our level. That’s our main concern,” he said. “Playing as well as we can, not playing well enough to win.”
Division 3 District at Corunna
OVID-ELSIE 6, CORUNNA 0
Ovid-Elsie 2 4 — 6
Corunna 0 0 — 0
OE: Josie Nash (Vivian Cole)
OE: Nash (Raygan Fluharty)
OE: Kaylee Sutliff (Nash)
OE: Nash (Sutliff)
OE: Sutliff (Audrey Bates)
OE: Nash (Sutliff)
Goaltending: O-E (Alexis Kusnier 3 saves); Corunna (5 saves)
Records: Ovid-Elsie 15-3; Corunna 3-11-1