CARROLL - Warren was just inches away at times, but those inches added up.
Two goals by Zach Storc, one in each half, gave Bishop Watterson a 2-0 lead, and while Alex Miller's goal in the second period cut the Warren deficit in half, it wasn't enough as the Eagles won 2-1 to advance to the Division II regional final while the Warriors' season came to a close.
"First two years here, we got dominated 3-0," said Warren head coach Andrew Johnson. "We came out 2-1 against a team ranked third in the state of Ohio in Division II, and we had chances to tie. They didn't dominate. It was a very evenly-matched game. I think it was a step in the right direction."
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Warren’s Aaron Mazurkiewicz (15) battles Bishop Watterson’s Matt Pardi (18) for the ball during a regional semifinal soccer match at Bloom-Carroll High School Wednesday.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Warren’s Alex Miller (1) shields a Bishop Watterson defender from ball during a regional semifinal soccer match at Bloom-Carroll High School Wednesday.
Storc found the back of the net at 25:33 mark in the first half and then again at the 34:00 mark in the second half.
Miller answered quickly with an unassisted score in the 48th minute, but Bishop Watterson's defense gave up nothing the rest of the way to secure the victory.
The Eagles (16-4-0) seemed to possess the ball more often than the Warriors (16-3-2), shooting 25 times in the match compared 10 shots for Warren.
BISHOP WATTERSON 2, WARREN 1
Warren (16-3-2) 0 1 - 1
Bishop Watterson (16-4-0) 1 1 - 2
BW - Zach Storc goal, unassisted, 15th minute
BW - Storc goal, unassisted, 46th minute
W - Alex Miller goal, unassisted, 48th minute
Shots: W - 10, BW - 25
Keeper saves: W - 10 (Tyler Schwendeman), BW - 3 (Trevor Funk)
Corner kicks: W - 5, BW - 4
"When you get up to here and face teams out of Columbus, they're all senior-laden," Johnson said. "They all play at a high level. They're possession was really well. We did well to contain their possession and counter-attack, but their speed of play is not what we normally see during the season. It's hard to prepare for that but today my boys left all their heart out there."
The Warriors could have very well led 2-1 at halftime.
In the 22nd minute, Aaron Mazurkiewicz maneuvered his way through the defense and got off a shot attempt that rolled inches to the left of the net.
Later, at the 7:10 mark, Michael O'Callaghan's corner kick was deflected into the air and head-butted by Miller towards the net, but Eagles goalkeeper Trevor Funk was right there for the save.
In the final 40 seconds of the half, Miller got the ball in Bishop Watterson territory and made a nice move to get past the final defender, but his shot attempt was wide right to leave it at 1-0 after 40 minutes.
Following Storc's second goal of the match, a header after a previous shot that was deflected into the air, Warren needed a goal in the worst way.
Miller delivered the goods, breaking away from the defense again, this time finishing the shot and making it a 2-1 game. "He just gave everything he had," Johnson said of Miller. "He was strong and fast. He was a lot for them to deal with."
The remainder of the game, the Eagles D tightened up.
Warren had a few chances around the net in the final 10 minutes, but each time Bishop Watterson was able to escape trouble.
Funk finished with three saves for the Eagles while Warren keeper Tyler Schwendeman saved 10 shots.
It was the final high school game for seniors Miller and Wyatt Lynch, who were each first team All-Southeastern Ohio Athletic League selections this year.
The remainder of the squad is expected to be back next season, which could mean big things for the future of Warren soccer.
"District champs, our third year in a row here," Johnson said in reflection of this season. "No one thought we'd be here this year. We lost 22 seniors in two years.
"The underclassmen coming in, they're seeing us winning and what we do to win. So I think it's a mindset now where we expect to be here every year."