Will Ohley didn’t exactly script the kind of senior season he endured.
It started well enough for the Strath Haven senior, with 16 points (10 goals) in the first five games of the season, even if the Panthers were a mere 1-4 through that stretch.
Then he endured a hamstring injury that just didn’t seem to improve, placing the remainder of his senior season in the balance.
Even in the aftermath of Tuesday’s 14-9 loss to No. 11 seed Conestoga which sent the No. 22 Panthers tumbling out of the District One Tournament, all the effort to travel the arduous path back to the field was worth it for Ohley.
“It’s been a tough senior year,” Ohley said. “All the guys have stepped up to fill in, and have done their part and I’m really proud of the team and how they dealt with it all. I was just trying to be on the sidelines for them and just try to be as much of a part of the team as I could off the field as on the field.
“I definitely didn’t want to end the season on the sidelines. Even though I didn’t get to play full games for the last few, it was still a blessing to come back at all.”
Ohley missed all of 10 games in the middle of the season, including a four-game slide that seriously jeopardized the Panthers’ playoff chances and had them mired at 4-9 at the end of April. His mobility still severely hampered, the attacker returned in early May on a limited bases, mainly in man-up situations.
For all the struggles, there was at least a payoff, beyond getting to be part of the growth he had watched from sidelines. That included the May 8 meeting with Upper Merion, where Ohley released a little frustration in a six-goal outing.
It may not have been against the best of competition in a 19-8 win for Haven, but it was a memory Ohley will long cherish.
“That was great,” he said. “I was itching for a goal, and six happened to go in. It was good to make up for a few of those games that I missed.”
Tuesday, Ohley managed to contribute two assists, both in the fourth quarter after playing sparingly in the first three frames. But he also made a contribution at halftime.
“At the end of halftime, Will got us all together and he told us he didn’t want it to be his last game because he’s not going to play in college next year,” said Bryan Mizell, who scored five points on the night. “You could just feel all the emotion he had. It was real quiet at halftime, but once he did that, we kind of picked up and got a little energy. The whole team fought the rest of that second half. I know we came out in the third quarter with a lot of energy, and it’s tough that we couldn’t bring it together for a win.”
Ohley’s halftime speech didn’t overturn a 9-4 halftime deficit furnished by five unanswered goals by Stoga in five minutes to end the half. But then again, as the Panthers collectively and Ohley in particular have realized this season, there are other goals to be accomplished beyond the scoreboard.
“I just was trying to inspire the guys to get out there and give it their all for the last half of the game,” Ohley said. “It didn’t really matter what happened at that point. I just wanted us to fight for the last half and go out on a high note. …
“I think the guys just bonded and I’m really proud of the way they fought back in the second half. It’s a great group of guys. I’ve loved playing with them for four years.”