Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
LOGAN — Battle-tested. Unioto’s girls have embodied every sense of that term this year.
The Shermans have never played with their full roster this season, they’ve been bitten … hard … by the injury bug, and their non-league schedule was one of the toughest in the Southeast District.
Still, Unioto came to play every single night.
Unfortunately for the Shermans, their season was cut short of their ultimate goal in a 1-0 loss to nemesis Fairfield Union, Thursday night in a Division II district semifinal at Logan High School.
The one-goal loss marked the team’s fourth such loss this season and the fifth by two goals or less.
“It’s a good thing we have depth. Most teams that don’t have depth, they would’ve folded tonight,” Unioto coach Jeremy Clark said. “Depth is the key. Every team has injuries. But it seems like this year, we had multiple. I think, at one time, someone was always hurt. We never did play with a full team.”
All in all, Unioto (10-7-2) fell by a 1-0 finals to Bexley, twice to Fairfield Union and Marietta. Way back on Sept. 3, the Shermans hosted the Falcons and fell by that score.
Much like that evening, Thursday, Unioto had trouble getting past Fairfield Union’s defense.
“[Fairfield Union] played a sweeper. Playing someone deep, we couldn’t get through that,” Clark said. “We tried to do it with a through ball in the first half and the sweeper has a 15-yard advantage so she got the ball every time. We tried to change that up a little bit but just didn’t get [a goal].”
All in all, Unioto managed to log four shots on goal … all off the foot of Brandy Robinson. The Falcons’ final tally wasn’t much better as it ended at five. But a shot on goal at the 10:30 mark in the first half, via Reagan Conrad, is the only one Fairfield Union (17-2) needed.
Robinson tried with all her might to even the score, sending two rockets towards the Falcons’ goalkeeper late in the game, but to no avail.
The loss forces the Shermans to bid adieu to seniors Kylee Bethel, Sophia Garza, XiXi McKell, Jeyla Wilson and Jaylah Kennedy. That quintet ends a career that includes an overall mark of 48-15-12.
“We’re young,” Clark said. “We only have four seniors. Those seniors have shown leadership. If I was late for practice, I’d show up and they’d already be warming up. You can’t teach that.”
Even with the loss, the Shermans can lay claim to two of the past three district championships. While the seniors will be missed, next fall, Unioto welcomes back a plethora of talent including, but not limited to, Robinson, SVC Player of the Year Abi Seals, Sydney Free, Avery and Ashtyn Miller, Erin Callahan, Arielle Pelletier, Jaidyn McKell, Autumn Stanger, Gracie Heath, etc.
“We have to prevent injuries and we have to finish,” Clark said. “That comes with age, playing a lot and getting more playing time. Some of these girls don’t play club. Come this spring, they’re going to start playing club soccer and they’re going to get more touches on the ball. That’s what they need.”