MILLBURY — In overtime, Bowling Green senior midfielder Mathias Drumm whirled and sent the winning 25-yard shot into the top corner of the net, giving the Bobcats a 1-0 Division II district championship win over Delta at Lake Community Stadium Thursday.
Drumm’s goal was enough to hand Delta its first loss of the season. The Panthers bow out of the tournament with a 16-1-3 record.
For just the second time in school history, the Bobcats (11-7-2) advance to the regional tournament, where they will play at Mucci Field at Huron High School’s Huron Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2. In 2011, BG defeated Bellville Clear Fork, 2-1, in two overtimes in the district final, but lost to Ottawa-Glandorf, 4-1, in the regional semifinals.
At Lake Thursday, the Bobcats and Panthers played a scoreless tie through regulation with Drumm getting the game-winner just two minutes and 49 seconds after the overtime kickoff.
Drumm scored off a perfect lead pass from sophomore Tomas Meek.
“Great ball into me, I took on my man and put it in the top corner,” Drumm said. “It felt great to put that in after we were marked so tightly the whole game, but we finally broke through.
“I was looking for that run all night between the outside back and the center back. He saw me, put it right on my foot and I just had to turn and shoot,” Drumm continued.
“It was amazing. Just like that whole minute after, just sucking it in and feeling it, it was great.”
BG coach Josh Fox said Meek did exactly what was expected of him.
“We told him to turn, he had space just like he had throughout the game, and they weren’t as compact as they had been so their outside back got kind of separated from their center backs,” Fox said.
“Tomas played a perfect ball through. I was just hoping that Mathias would get on the end of it, like he has all season, and he did.”
Through 82 minutes-plus of scoreless soccer, BG held a 17-8 advantage in shots, including 10-4 in shots on goal. The Bobcats felt as if something would have to give eventually.
“We knew our time was going to come,” Drumm said. “That is what our coach told us at the break before overtime. He said, ‘Calm down, we’ve got this, we are going to get it in, we’ve just got to keep going.’”
Fry said the Bobcats implemented a plan to take advantage of Delta’s defense.
“They just sat back so deep defensively that there was room to attack in the middle third. We made that adjustment at halftime,” Fox said.
“Credit to their defense — they just always seemed to get a leg or a body on the ball. Every time we thought we were through, we just couldn’t get through, and then we finally got there in overtime.”
Fox said the Bobcats prepared for the Panther’s four-man front line, too, which exposed the Panthers at midfield.
“We practiced on running their long ball,” Fox said. “We knew they were going to play direct — being first to the ball, winning the second ball, and then attacking that space, because we knew having that high line that there were going to be those gaps.
“They probably defended way deeper than we thought, so that is the adjustment we made at halftime.”
Delta had its chances, too, with junior defenseman Eli Mora having a scoring opportunity in overtime before Drumm had his opportunity. Plus, the Panthers had a strategy of their own after BG’s 3-0 district semifinal win over Maumee.
“We just told them, ‘Hey, if they (BG) are going to be heading the ball a lot,’ because we saw them do that against Maumee, I said, ‘play off the touch and we’ll try to work off that, or we’ll try and cut angles and stuff,’” Delta coach J.K. Abair said.
“I thought we did a decent job off it. There was a span where they had 20 minutes on their half, and we had 15 of 20 minutes on our half, but we just could not connect and put the ball away.”
Plus, Delta, the Northwest Ohio Athletic League champions, play behind a strong defensive line and highly touted junior goalkeeper in Brodey Roth. Fox knew the Panthers would present a challenge.
“We played several common opponents, and the scores were pretty similar, so I felt like it would be tightly contested,” Fox said.
“We thought we were so battle-tested playing the (Northern Lakes League) schedule that we played, the teams that we play, we just kept telling the guys, ‘Relax, don’t be nervous, we’ve been here before, we’ll be fine, and we’ll find a way’ and we did.”
Meanwhile, BG’s starting defense unit, seniors Max Nazario and Alex Lewis and juniors Eli Metzger and Chad Mierzejewski, along with junior keeper Max Haynes kept a clean sheet. Haynes had four saves.
In the regional tournament, the Bobcats will face the winner of Mentor Lake Catholic (14-2-2) and Richfield Revere (16-1-1).
Revere is the No. 1 ranked team in the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association statewide poll. Lake Catholic and Revere face off in a district semifinal Saturday.