Celebration

Madison's Taylor Huff and Phyllis Stanfield celebrate after the Rams beat Rocky River 4-2 in the Division II state semifinals Tuesday at Medina's Ken Dukes Stadium.

MEDINA — The photographer positioned just to my right looked at me like I had two heads.

I couldn’t really blame him. What I said seemed out of the realm of possibility.

But he hadn't seen Taylor Huff before. I had, many times.

Madison’s incomparable senior was standing over the ball 45 yards from the goal and not far from her own sideline. It was an awkward angle and a strong crosswind had the oversized American flag at the west end of Medina's Ken Dukes Stadium standing at attention.

So when I told the gentleman holding all the expensive camera gear he may want to get ready because Huff was in scoring range, all he could do was offer an incredulous laugh.

Then Taylor Huff did Taylor Huff things.

The soon-to-be four-time All-American drove an impossible shot over the outstretched arms of Rocky River goalkeeper Sabrina Rick and just inside the far post for her third goal of the second half of Tuesday’s Division II state semifinal match at Medina’s Ken Dukes Stadium.

That was the finishing touch that helped the Rams climb out of a 2-0 deficit for a 4-2 victory, advancing to Friday’s state championship match against Granville.

I glanced at the photographer to my right, whose jaw was laying on the artificial surface -- and I shot him a knowing smile.

That Huff would do the impossible comes as no surprise to those of us who have had the good fortune to cover her throughout her career.

Richland Source was there on that mid-August evening in 2017 when the then-freshman scored four goals in her varsity debut, a 4-2 win over Richland County rival Clear Fork.

“We didn’t have an answer for her,” Clear Fork coach Brittany Bechtel told me that night.

Richland Source was there later that year when the Rams fell to Lake Catholic 1-0 in the state semifinals on a cold November night in Macedonia.

We were there last fall when Ashleigh Bechtel exorcised that heartache with a game-winning golden goal in overtime against Chagrin Falls in the state semifinals.

We were there when the Rams ran into juggernaut Kettering Alter in last year’s state championship match at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, the 2-0 loss leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of Huff and her nine classmates who have made it their mission to cap their careers with a gold trophy.

And we’ll be there again Friday at 4 p.m., when Madison tries to finish what Huff and the rest of the ultra-talented senior class started in the fall of 2017.

Since 2013, Richland Source has been there to capture all of the euphoric highs and gut-punching lows. We’re dedicated to being Richland County’s go-to news source. But we need your support to make that happen.

For as little as $4.99 a month, you can help finance our operation. You can help Richland Source be there to document history. You can go along for the rollercoaster ride the next time Taylor Huff and her teammates do the unimaginable. Click here to get started.

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at curt@richlandsource.com or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.

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