STRONGSVILLE — It was the shot heard ’round Madison Township and it came off the foot of an unlikely hero.
Junior midfielder Ashleigh Bechtel poked in the game-winning goal off a rebound with 10:47 remaining in overtime as second-ranked Madison knocked off Chagrin Falls 1-0 in the Division II state semifinals Tuesday at Pat Catan Stadium.
The Rams (18-1-4) will play top-ranked Kettering Alter for the state championship at 1 p.m. Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium. Alter blanked Granville 3-0 in Tuesday’s other semifinal match in Chillicothe.
On a team full of prolific shot makers, it was Bechtel who scored the most important goal in program history. The goal was just her fourth of the season and the sixth of her career.
“It doesn’t even feel real, honestly,” Bechtel said amid a wild on-field celebration. “Before the game (assistant coach) Ron (Andrews) told me, ‘You’re going to score today and it’s going to be a big one.’ He was right.”
Bechtel’s golden goal came less than five minutes into overtime, capping a back-and-forth affair that saw both sides squander scoring opportunities. Madison’s best chance came early in the second half when junior All-Ohioan Taylor Huff rocketed a shot off the crossbar that was cleared off the line by Chagrin Falls goal keeper Aerin Krebs.
“I just felt like we were shooting on them and we weren’t playing defense for the last 10 or 15 minutes,” said Huff, the University of Tennessee recruit who came into Tuesday’s match with a team-high 34 goals to go with 21 assists. “We had a lot of shots. I felt like we were the attacking team.”
Bechtel came on for Paige Eldridge late in regulation and stayed on for overtime. Her game-winner pinballed around the box, just eluding Krebs before nestling into the back of the net.
“It was just bouncing around,” Bechtel said. “I saw my opportunity. I just ran in and stuck my toe out and thankfully it went in.
“You just can’t describe it. There’s no words.”
Madison coach Zac Huff agreed.
“What a game,” he said. “That’s what a state semifinal is supposed to be like.
“It was just a great semifinal game and we’re going to MAPFRE Stadium.”