Fenwick girls soccer reach regional final

Blank scored the clinching goal in the second half and the No. 1-ranked Falcons defeated sixth-ranked Columbus Bishop Ready 2-0 in the Division III, Region 11 semifinals on a windy, rainy and cold night at Hilliard Bradley High School.

“It was total motivation,” Blank said of following the ’08 team. “Now it’s my last year and my last shot. I know it can be done.”

Fenwick (16-1-3) got close last year before losing in overtime in the state semifinals. Next for the Falcons is the winner of Coshocton vs. Chillicothe Zane Trace. That match was postponed to Thursday at 7 p.m. at Bloom-Carroll High School because of the weather. Fenwick’s regional final will be played at 3 p.m. Saturday at Gahanna Lincoln High School.

The playing conditions were difficult. The saturated artificial turf took some bounce out of the ball, and the strong wind made it difficult to control kicks either into the wind or with the wind.

“They wanted to play. If they had delayed another day, they’d have been upset that they didn’t get to play tonight,” co-head coach Kate Gallo said. “We practiced in it all week, we practiced in it yesterday – we were prepared for it.”

With the wind at its back, Fenwick scored with 11 minutes left in the first half when freshman Leandra Hess deflected a pass from Blank into the net from close range. Ready had a couple of scoring chances in the second half, but the Falcons’ defense held for its fourth postseason shutout. Then Blank, the GGCL’s top scorer with 25 goals and 10 assists, scored on a left-footed breakaway with 10 minutes left.

After losing 12 seniors, co-coaches Gallo and Tom McEwan have seen senior captains Blank and Katie Downing and junior Amy Gilmore help them rebuild into another state contender.

“Our captains are very intense and they’ve been strong and passionate from the beginning,” Gallo said. “They’ve really taken this team and molded them into mentally strong soccer players.”

To do that, older players and younger players – like Blank and Hess playing together on the front line – needed to become good teammates.

“We’re on the field, it doesn’t matter what grade you’re in,” Blank said. “Everyone’s had the same expectations; everyone works at the same rate. We’ve had three freshmen starting all year, and we don’t treat them like freshmen.”

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