soccer player dribbles around two defenders
Madison midfielder Natalee Back dribbles past Shawnee defenders Cameron Ridenour and Adelay Stover during the first half of Tuesday's Division II regional semifinal match at Tiffin's Frost-Kalnow Stadium. Credit: Curt Conrad, staff reporter

TIFFIN — Mother Nature put on a show Tuesday night and so did Madison’s Jada Neal.

A sophomore midfielder, Neal scored two goals and added an assist as the Rams rumbled to a convincing 3-0 Division II regional semifinal win over Lima Shawnee at snow-swept and frosty Frost-Kalnow Stadium.

A fast-moving squall blew through Tiffin during player introductions, obscuring the far sideline and covering the playing surface in a coat of snow. The storm eventually subsided, but the remnants made a mess of the pitch.

“I told them, ‘The other team is playing in the same weather,’ ” Madison coach Jordan Monica said. “We were slipping and sliding but … they got it done.”

The Rams (13-4-4) took a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute when the high-scoring Nevaeh Lewis took a pass from Neal, maneuvered around Shawnee defender Bella Hile and unloaded a shot from about 15 yards in front of the goal.

Shawnee keeper Chloe Nance came off her line and made a sliding save of the initial shot, but Lewis alertly collected her own miss and tapped it into the vacated net for her 26th goal of the season. 

Lewis returned the favor about 20 minutes later, setting up Neal’s first goal for a 2-0 lead with 6:38 remaining in the first half. Lewis settled a pass from Alyse Huggins, then found Neal by herself from near the top of the 18-yard box.

Neal iced it five minutes later, scoring from about 29 yards away for a 3-0 lead. She collected a loose ball and lofted it over Hile, who had left her line.

“I feel like, coming into these big games, people … know what Nevaeh can do,” Neal said. “They’re going to be on her, so we need to work through other people and let them have opportunities to score.” 

Madison’s defense controlled the second half, limiting Shawnee’s scoring opportunities. The Rams outshot Shawnee (9-5-6) 24-2 and owned 14-0 advantage in shots on goal.

“I think today they had a chip on their shoulders because Shawnee beat us two years ago in the regional semifinals (in 2021),” Monica said. “We had something to play for.”

Madison will play Rocky River for a regional title and a berth in the state semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Bowling Green High School. Rocky River blanked Maumee 8-0 in Tuesday’s other regional semifinal in Huron.

“All season we’ve gone in being the underdog,” Monica said. “(Saturday) will be no different.”