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