The Bluffton girls soccer team recently completed one of the most successful seasons in the history of the program. The squad lost in the District Semifinals and ended the season with an overall record of 13-5-1. The Pirates went undefeated in Northwest Conference play and won the NWC outright at 7-0.
After starting the season with three losses to perennial powers Ottawa-Glandorf, Riverdale and Bath the Pirates got rolling. The Lady Pirates downed Lincolnview and Spencerville and then had a face off with troublesome Allen East. The Mustangs and Pirates have battled for the conference crown the last few years and everyone in attendance knew the importance of the game. Sarah Theisen put on a show, scoring all four goals in a 4-1 Pirate romp. The two teams would meet later in the season. Coming off the big conference victory, BHS stubbed their toe in their next game with Van Buren. The Black Knights hung a 2-0 defeat on the Pirates at Steinmetz Field.
From that point, the team took off. They went undefeated over the next eleven games with a 10-0-1 record outscoring their opponents by a 49-6 margin. Theisen remained a threat at all times. Classmate Abbie Parkins, junior Kelli Leugers and freshman Kayla White made several key plays during the team’s run forcing the opponents to spend equal amounts of energy attempting to cover everyone. The defense was in lockdown mode during the streak, pitching six shutouts. Defenders Sierra Ribley, Kayla Kindle, Leah Conley and Averey Rumer provided a wall of defense in front of goalkeeper Jadyn Barhorst. Abbey Gambrell, Ana Spiridigliozzi, Sydney Staton, Brooke Koontz, Brinkley Garmatter and Katie Burkholder attacked on offense and supported the defense as needed creating a total team effort.
Among the big wins during the streak was a 3-2 come from behind victory over state ranked Liberty Benton. The Eagles jumped out to a 1-0 lead but Bluffton tied it at 1-1 on a Theisen goal. Sarah opened the second half scoring off a pass from Leugers six minutes into the second half. After the Eagles tied the game at 2-2, Spiridigliozzi sent a through ball to Theisen who beat the Eagle keeper with less than three minutes remaining. A few games later, Bluffton and Delphos Jefferson met in Delphos to decide the NWC title. Kayla White knocked in two goals and Theisen scored two of her own. Abbie Parkins scored the fifth and assisted on two others as BHS closed the regular season with a huge win and conference title.
Looming in the wings was Allen East in a Sectional Tournament rematch. The Mustangs were well prepared and the game was deadlocked at 0-0 at the half. Six minutes into the second half, Theisen got loose and scored on a breakaway to put the Pirates up. Four minutes later, goalkeeper Barhorst boomed a punt downfield. The ball took a big bounce over the AE defense and Theisen collected it on the run and buried it for a 2-0 Pirate lead. The game was marred by a serious injury to Mustang freshman Jade Meyer who was taken away by ambulance. The Pirates advanced with a 2-1 win. With the win, Bluffton earned the right to travel to Ashland to take on Ashland Crestview, just north of Mansfield. In a ruggedly physical game, Bluffton advanced by a 2-1 score. Kelli Leugers put BHS on top just three minutes into the game, tapping in a pass from Kayla White. Theisen added a second Pirate goal for a 2-0 halftime lead.
Bluffton faced Riverdale in the District Semifinals at Findlay’s Elmer Graham Stadium. The Falcons led 1-0 at halftime and added a second goal just minutes into the second half. Sarah Theisen was tackled from behind in the penalty box and converted the penalty kick with fourteen minutes remaining. Two late goals from Riverdale brought the season to an end.
Several Pirates were named First Team Northwest Conference including Sarah Theisen, Abbie Parkins and Jadyn Barhorst. Kayla Kindle was named Second Team while Kelli Leugers, Katie Burkholder, Averey Rumer, Leah Conley and Kayla White were named Honorable Mention in voting done by league coaches. Theisen finished the year with 28 goals scored. As a team, the Pirates outscored their opponents 72-25. For comparison, in 2015 BHS scored 31 total goals and gave up 44. Congratulations Lady Pirates on a terrific season!
Game 19: OHSAA District Semifinal at Findlay - Riverdale 4 Bluffton 1
On a cold evening at Findlay’s Elmer Graham Stadium, Riverdale jumped out to a 2-0 first half lead. Sarah Theisen got loose on a breakaway and got Bluffton within a 2-1 score with fourteen minutes left in the game. The Falcons were able to score twice more on a breakaway and then on a counter attack with 8’ and 6’ left respectively.
Game 18: OHSAA District Quarterfinal at Ashland - Bluffton 2 Ashland Crestview 1
Kelli Leugers put BHS up just three minutes into the game on a pass from Kayla White. Sarah Theisen added the second goal on a penalty kick. Goalkeeper Jadyn Barhorst had 10 saves in goal in the very physical game.
Game 17: OHSAA Sectional Qualifier at Bluffton - Bluffton 2 Allen East 1
After a scoreless first half, Sarah Theisen scored two goals in a four minute span to give Bluffton a two goal advantage that would be good enough for the win. Averey Rumer sent a diagonal through ball from the right side to Theisen who buried a shot from just inside the 18 yard box. Just a few minutes later, goalkeeper Jadyn Barhorst boomed a punt that bounced over the Mustang defenders and Theisen again found the net. The game was marred by a serious injury to an Allen East player who was taken off the field via ambulance with a neck injury. When play resumed, the Mustangs were invigorated and scored to cut the Pirate lead to one. The Pirate defense held strong for the victory.
Game 16 : Bluffton 5 Delphos Jefferson 1
(DELPHOS) - The Pirates completed an undefeated, championship season with a decisive road victory over Jefferson. Kayla White got the scoring started and she would add a second goal. Sarah Theisen scored two goals of her own and Abbie Parkins added a goal as well. Parkins had two assists as did Brooke Koontz. Ana Spiridigliozzi also added an assist. BHS outshot the Wildcats 12-3 on the afternoon.
Game 15 : Bluffton 12 Crestview 0
(BLUFFTON) - Complete dominance from start to finish. From the opening kick, Bluffton was in control of this one, staying undefeated in conference play. Goals were scored by Sarah Theisen (3), Kayla White (2), Brinkley Garmatter (2), Abbie Parkins (2), Kelli Leugers, Katie Burkholder and Jayme Siefer who buried a penalty kick in the left upper 90 for the game’s final goal. The shutout was split in goal by Jadyn Barhorst and Hannah Yost.
Game 14: Bluffton 3 Cory Rawson 0
(BLUFFTON) - BHS improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games with yet another shutout. Sarah Theisen scored all three Pirate goals with assists coming from Abbie Parkins and Kayla White. Jadyn Barhorst earned the shutout in goal.
Game 13: Bluffton 3 Liberty Benton 2
(BLUFFTON) - Riding a strong winning streak, Bluffton handed state-ranked Liberty Benton just their second loss of the season in a come from behind victory. L-B staked a 1-0 lead in the first half but a Sarah Theisen goal leveled the score heading into halftime. Theisen again got loose behind the Eagles defense just six minutes into the half, taking a Kelli Leugers and scoring. Liberty Benton tied the game with 20 minutes to go but the Pirates responded. Ana Spiridigliozzi sent a through ball to Theisen who scored the game winner with just under three minutes remaining in the match. L-B outshot BHS 17-9 on the evening. Jadyn Barhorst made 15 saves in goal.
To be continued
Teams: Soccer (G)