Otsego came into their Division II tournament game with a slightly better record than Bowling Green, but BG walked away with an 11-1 victory Thursday at Bobcat Stadium.
The Bobcats advance to the district tournament with a 9-7-2 record, while Otsego bows out at 10-8.
BG’s win demonstrates how good Northern Lakes League soccer is. BG finished 2-4-1 against NLL foes but is 7-3-1 against non-league opposition.
“It’s just the speed of play,” BG coach Josh Fox said. “You must play faster mentally and physically.
“Seeing that competition week-in and week-out just gets you ready to face anybody you have to play. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse at the same time.”
BG senior midfielders Jackson Triggs and Mathias Drumm and junior defender Eli Metzger scored two goals apiece for the Bobcats.
BG sophomore forward Luca Brininger, junior midfielders Cole Ash and Mason Mitov and junior forwards Ethan Decker and Grant Sonner scored one goal each.
BG sophomore forward Tomas Meek had two assists, and Ash, Triggs, Sonner, senior defender Alec Ross and junior midfielder Paul Archer had one assist each.
In goal, BG junior Max Haynes and senior Joey Hover combined to make five saves as the Bobcats outshot Otsego, 30-10, and the Bobcats had 23 shots on net to Otsego’s six.
Triggs said the BG senior class hopes to take what they can from playing their NLL schedule and turn it into a long tournament run.
“It gives us a lot of energy and we are ready for it,” Triggs said. “As seniors especially, knowing this is it for high school soccer, that gives us the drive to just keep pushing. I think our entire team feels that, not just the seniors.”
BG had one stretch this season winning six of seven games, but lost to Lexington, 2-1, Perrysburg, 2-1, and Maumee Valley Country Day, 4-1, to close the season.
Perrysburg and Lexington are ranked in state polls. BG led Perrysburg 1-0 at halftime and Perrysburg scored once on a BG own goal, which proved to be the difference in the game.
“Last week was a tough week, and we knew that looking ahead at the schedule that it was probably going to be our toughest week of the season,” Fox said.
“We looked flat against Maumee Valley — not to take anything away from them because they are a good team as well,” Fox continued.
“We knew we had to come out and pick ourselves up off the mat and have a good match tonight, just to get things rolling.”
Triggs believes even the three losses to state heavyweights the final week of the season will help the Bobcats during the tournament trail.
“We were going really strong with some momentum, and we had a couple very close losses, but we still have the momentum, and it’s going to help us go far,” Triggs said.
BG (9-7-2) now gets to take on a familiar opponent in Maumee (10-8) in a 5:30 contest at Lake Community Stadium on Monday.
The Bobcats defeated the Panthers, 2-0, in NLL play at Maumee’s Richard Kazmaier Stadium this year.
A second BG win over Maumee will send the Bobcats into the district final on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. at Lake Community Stadium.
For Otsego, the 11-1 loss to BG does not take away from a historic season that saw the Knights get 10 wins and defeat Port Clinton, 5-2, in the first round of the tournament.
“We always knew tonight was going to be a massive challenge for our boys,” Otsego coach Ryan Carter said.
“We’re super proud of everything they achieved this year — winning double digits — I’m not sure the last time that ever happened.
“We won our first tournament game to get to this stage and play an opponent like this. I’m real proud of everything we’ve been able to do.”
Otsego scored its only goal on a shot by sophomore Walker Waitt, which was deflected into the net by a BG defender.
Otsego sophomore goalkeeper Dylan Jones had 12 saves and senior Andrea Grandmaison led the Knights with four shots, including three on goal, and Grandmaison had five steals.