Bay de­ter­mined to bring home ti­tle

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - SPORTS - Fuad Shal­hout Colum­nist

No mat­ter whom the op­po­nent has been, the Bay Rock­ets have met ev­ery chal­lenge thrown at them dur­ing its state fi­nal run.

On Nov. 9 at MAPFRE Sta­dium, it has one more.

The Rock­ets (14-5-3) square off with de­fend­ing state cham­pion Cincin­nati In­dian Hill (16-2-3) for the grand prize.

It’s the Rock­ets’ first state fi­nal ap­pear­ance since 2003.

“I did see us go­ing to state,” said head coach Beth English, when asked if she be­lieved her group would be in the big game.

Bay’s matches have had a theme in the play­offs — whether ideal or not:

Goal­keeper Maeve John­ston picks up a cou­ple big early saves, the Rock­ets kind of start slowly, English and as­sis­tant coach Sean Egan make a half­time ad­just­ment to where they con­trol the sec­ond-half tempo.

John­ston again makes a few more key saves.

Sopho­more Kealy Sul­li­van then scores the game-win­ning goal — she has three of them this post­sea­son.

It’s the clas­sic bend-but­don’t-break method — and it’s worked.

“It has been an amaz­ing run,” Sul­li­van said. “We have such a good team and coaches. The se­niors are work­ing to­gether so hard this sea­son. It’s amaz­ing, we are work­ing so hard. We are al­ways pos­i­tive and stay­ing com­posed on the field. It’s just awe­some.”

But the in­ter­est­ing thing dur­ing the post­sea­son has been the mo­ti­va­tion pro­vided by the boys soc­cer team — who just lost in the state semi­fi­nal, and vice versa.

When­ever the girls won, the boys wanted to fol­low up. Both teams sup­ported each other through­out the post­sea­son.

But with the boys now elim­i­nated, the girls have an ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion be­hind them.

And that’s at least to get one for the Bay com­mu­nity.

“We’re go­ing to watch the girls on Fri­day and hope­fully we can come away with one,” Bay boys coach Bobby Dougherty said.

It’s been well-doc­u­mented that Bay doesn’t have any star of­fen­sive play­ers.

But they have no prob­lem stop­ping stars.

They held strong against Mansfield Madi­son’s Tay­lor Huff (31 goals, 19 as­sists) and Lake Catholic’s Keke Babic (22 goals, 6 as­sists).

Whether the Rock­ets win or lose — they’ve al­ready es­tab­lished a cul­ture for fu­ture play­ers to fol­low in.

But a loss isn’t even on their mind. As John­ston once put it: “We be­lieve we can win a state cham­pi­onship.”

They might not have the state fi­nal ex­pe­ri­ence In­dian Hill has, but they do have the be­lief.

And that be­lief has car­ried them this far.

FRANK GAMBATESE — FOR THE MORN­ING JOUR­NAL

Bay goal­keeper Maeve John­ston stops a shot against Lake Catholic on Nov. 8 in a Divi­sion II state semi­fi­nal at Nor­do­nia High School.

JEN FORBUS — THE MORN­ING JOUR­NAL

Bay’s Kealy Sul­li­van con­trols the ball dur­ing the Divi­sion II Elyria Dis­trict fi­nal against Rocky River. Sul­li­van has three game-win­ning goals in the play­offs so far.

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