Willard girls tennis coach Josh Bauerle felt like his Crimson Flashes team found that out this year.
In a match Edison needed to force a potential co-championship in the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay division, it was host Willard claiming the 4-1 win for a second time this season against the Chargers on Thursday at Willard High School.
Willard (15-2, 13-0) still has a match left to make up at Oak Harbor, but the loss dropped Edison to 13-3 overall and 11-2 in the Bay to put the wraps on back-to-back league championships.
“It was a hard season with a lot of rain outs and a target on our back, making sure we got everyone’s best shot all year,” Bauerle said. “But we kept our focus, worked hard and sacrificed for each other. What a great final night on these courts for our five seniors.
“Our number one goal this year was to defend our league title — and tonight our girls made it reality,” he added. “This group of girls works harder than any kids I’ve been around, and I couldn’t be more proud of what they have done these past two years.”
Edison coach Ryan Meredith made a slight lineup change from the previous meeting with Willard on Sept. 6 in Milan. He moved his usual Nos. 2 and 3 singles players, Jayla Medina and Emily Vogus, to first doubles.
Facing Willard’s Addie Slone and Jo Brubaker, the move nearly worked. Medina and Vogus won the first set, 6-4 — but Slone and Brubaker then pulled out a pair of 6-4 wins in the second and third sets to claim the victory.
But also key in Thursday’s win was Willard’s No. 2 doubles team of Tori Barnett and Whitney Robinson. They beat Edison’s usual first doubles tandem of Kaylee Ries and Torri Keysor by scores of 6-3, 6-2.
“I thought it was a very smart lineup move by Edison,” Bauerle said. “But Whitney and Tori really stepped up huge to get that win. Addie and Jo went down early, then came right back and played great tennis.
“I’ve said all year our three second doubles girls could beat any first doubles team — and they proved it tonight,” he added.
At first singles, Edison standout Mariah Medina and Willard’s Emma Moll put on yet another show. The pair played three matches last year that went three sets, but Medina won the Sept. 6 meeting in a sweep (7-5, 6-0).
But on Thursday, Moll opened with a 6-4 win in the first set. However, Medina bounced back strong yet again, winning the next two sets big by scores of 6-1, 6-0.
Willard’s Carlee Gibson and Addy Paxton then rolled at second and third singles. Gibson beat Lexie Weyer at No. 2 (6-1, 6-0) and Paxton swept Emily Moore at No. 3 (6-0, 6-0).
“Emma just about finally got to Mariah before she caught fire and pulled it out,” Bauerle said. “And Carlee and Addie took care of business. We knew it would be incredibly tough to clinch — but our girls got it done.”
Edison faces Fremont St. Joseph in Bay action on Monday, while Willard visits Norwalk in a matchup of SBC Bay and Lake champions. Both the Chargers and Flashes begin Division II sectional play on Thursday at Shelby High School.