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Warriors ready for state semifinals


1:00 AM, Nov. 04, 2012 EDT

Ontario's Katie Earhart dribbles past Chippewa's Marisa Fluharty during the second half of last week's regional semifinal match at Ashland's Community Stadium. / Daniel Melograna / News Journal

ONTARIO — 

The last time Ontario advanced to the Final Four, the excursion was more sight-seeing tour than business trip.

Not this time.

The Warriors (17-3-1) will return to Revere High School in Richfield for Tuesday's Division III state semifinal match against Gates Mills Hawken (13-4-2). Game time is 7 p.m.

Two years ago, Ontario fell to Hathaway Brown 4-1 in the Division II state semis at Revere. It was Ontario's first state tournament appearance.

"It's a little different this time," Ontario coach Larry Atkinson said. "That team was in the state tournament for the first time. This team is more experienced. There are 10 girls on our roster this year who played as freshmen or sophomores on that team two years ago. They have been through this before and they know what to expect."

Ontario captured its second regional championship in three years with a 2-1 win over Kalida in Lima on Saturday. The Warriors surrendered a goal with 4 seconds remaining, the first goal they've allowed in five tournament games."

"With the tournament runs we've made, I think that helped us in the regional final," Atkinson said. "Kalida was a young team and we came out and put pressure on them. I thought they got a little rattled."

Hawken punched its ticket to the Final Four with a 4-0 win over Elyria Catholic on Saturday. The Hawks have outscored five tournament opponents 21-3.

"We watched them play in the Riverview tournament (in early September)," Atkinson said. "They play a tough schedule against a lot of Division I and II teams in northeast Ohio and they've got two strong forwards."

Ontario boasts a wealth of offensive firepower in senior Taylor Elliot, junior Mackenna Papst and sophomore Abbey Brokaw. The trio has combined for 50 goals and 20 assists.

"We're definitely excited to get back in the Final Four," Papst said. "We have some experience playing at this level, so that should help us.

"After we lost to Clear Fork (3-0 in late September) we changed up our formation because we knew we would be seeing better competition in the tournament. That has helped us too."

The Warriors are looking forward to Tuesday's game.

"Two years ago, when we played Hathaway Brown, we didn't match up very well," Atkinson said. "We match up better with Hawken. It should be a great match."

 

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