MADISON TOWNSHIP — Last year’s visit to MAPFRE Stadium was a sightseeing tour.
This year’s excursion to the home of the Columbus Crew is a business trip for Madison.
The unbeaten Rams (20-0-3) will play for the Division II state championship for a second straight year, this time against Granville (19-0-2) on Friday at 4 p.m.
The OH.Report will broadcast the game on tape delay, starting at 6 p.m.
Madison reached the final a year ago before falling to Kettering Alter, 2-0. With most of the roster back, including arguably the best player in the state in University of Tennessee recruit Taylor Huff, anything short of a return to the state championship match would have been a disappointment.
“I think last year they were just happy to be there. The game was too big for a lot of them,” said Taylor’s father and Madison coach, Zac Huff. “I think that they’re ready. They want to win it now.”
One of 10 seniors on the roster, Taylor Huff played perhaps her greatest half in Tuesday’s state semifinal match against Rocky River. The state’s career leader in assists scored three second-half goals as the Rams rallied for a 4-2 victory after trailing 2-0 early and 2-1 at the half.
“Us 10 seniors, we were so excited to play the second half just because we didn’t want to go out like that. We wanted to make it to the state finals again," she said.
Granville advanced with a 3-2 overtime win over Monroe. Karah Van Horn scored two goals, including the game-winner with four minutes remaining in overtime, to send the Blue Aces to the state final for the third time in program history and first time since 2015.
The Rams and Blue Aces played to a 2-2 tie at Granville on Sept. 19.
“They’re a great team, They’re exactly like us,” Taylor Huff said. “We’ve just got to play them well.”
Van Horn leads Granville with 33 goals and 18 assists on the season, while Ella Rogers has 25 goals and 18 assists. Ella Schneider has 18 goals, while Ella Hoover and Ava Labocki each have 10.
Madison counters with Huff (34 goals, 26 assists) and freshman Nevaeh Lewis (17 goals). Kari Eckenwiler has 12 goals, including one in the state semifinal.
Both Madison and Granville have scored 114 goals on the season. The Rams have 12 shutouts on the season, while the Aces have 15.
Madison was ranked No. 1 in the final Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association state poll, while Granville was second.
“Getting to the state finals is one thing, but winning it is another,” Taylor Huff said. “We all want to win it so bad. We got there last year and we fell short.
“Coming back I think we have a really good chance at winning it and we know what it takes to get there and win.”