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February 27, 2021

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Poling hat trick leads Ada boys past Mansfield Christian

Freshman Drew Long passed out two assists and Brendan Jameson doled out the other for sectional trophy

By Cort Reynolds
ADA - Senior forward Jacob Poling netted all three goals as the Ada boys soccer team defeated visiting Mansfield Christian 3-1 in a Div. III sectional final match on a chilly Saturday afternoon at the park pitch.

The victory upped the Bulldog record to 10-8. The third time was the charm for Ada against MC in the tournament as they had lost twice before to the perennial power Flames during Jason Okuly's tenure.

"It was a good, hard-fought game," said veteran head coach Okuly. "It got a little nervous when they popped one in and made it 2-1. But the guys kept their heads up and kept doing what they did all game, and ended up with the W."

Freshman Drew Long passed out two assists and Brendan Jameson doled out the other assist for Ada. Jameson also played hounding defense on the Flame forwards.

Sophomore goalkeeper Grant Preston was credited with three saves.

Poling scored twice in the first half to give Ada a 2-0 lead. The Bulldogs then controlled the ball most of the second half.

Poling's left-footed shot sailed just wide with over 32 minutes left. Three minutes later, Ada fired a shot on goal which was saved, followed by another attempt that went wide. 

Jameson booted consecutive corner kicks. The first went through the box and the resulting shot was wide. A moment later, his next corner boot resulted in a header and a shot that was blocked in front of the goal. 

Preston came well off his line to make a sliding save with just over 26 minutes remaining. A minute later, a Flame flick shot went wide.

MC then scored when a direct free kick from straight on just outside the 18-yard box curled around the Ada wall and into the net with 23:47 left to play.

The shifty Poling tried to answer, but his shot went into the side netting from about 15 yards out. A through ball went in front of the Ada net with about 16 minutes to go, yet the Bulldog defense denied it.

In the 67th minute, Jameson's left corner kick bounced through traffic to Poling on the right side. The speedy senior deposited a shot into the goal from about 10 yards out that rebuilt the lead to 3-1.

It was his 36th goal of the season.

Two minutes later the Flame keeper saved a long Poling free kick. A minute later, Poling tried a bicycle kick shot off another Jameson corner but it sailed high over the goal.

With eight minutes to go, Preston saved a loose ball off a side throw-in. An Ada shot at the 6:30 mark was deflected off a defender's foot and caromed just outside the goal post.

Yet another left corner kick off the foot of Jameson was punched away by the MC keeper amid a crowd. One last corner from the right side by the sophomore defender was saved by the Flame goalie.

The Bulldogs then ran out the clock without having to withstand another good scoring opportunity by the visitors.

Mansfield Christian won the Div. III state title in 2014, and made their 10th regional showing as recently as 2017. MC has made five Ohio state Final Four appearances.

Ada now gets a rematch at unbeaten top seed Bluffton (15-0-2) Wednesday, October 28. The match is at Tiffin Columbian High School in the district semifinals, starting at 5 p.m.

The Pirates whipped eighth seed Elmore Woodmore 9-0 in their sectional final Saturday after receiving a first round bye. Seven Pirates scored, led by three goals from Jude Spallinger.

Northwest Conference champion Bluffton is the returning Div. III state runner-up. They defeated visiting Ada 7-0 on September 28 to deal the second-place Bulldogs (4-1) their only NWC loss. 

"Bluffton is a good team," said Okuly. "They will be a very difficult team to get past. We know what they want to do but we have to stop them, and that is a task easier said than done.

"Coach Smucker always has his boys ready to play and so far they are undefeated this year, so no one has had much luck at it. They are a very respectful team," he added.

The winner advances to the district finals Oct. 31 at Tiffin. Riverdale is the number two seed in the other half of the district draw.