By John Bombatch
BEAVERCREEK — His team didn’t lose Wednesday’s Greater Western Conference, Central Division battle to Clayton Northmont. But Beavercreek coach Steve Popp’s team didn’t win, either.
Sadly, in this case, a tie may be the difference between Popp’s Beavers winning the GWOC Central or finishing a really close second.
“It definitely puts us, with two ties, at a disadvantage,” Popp explained after the match. Beavercreek had tied Centerville earlier this season and now has a 1-0-2 record in the GWOC Central division. “A win would’ve obviously put us in a better position, but a loss would have really hurt. A tie still puts us in a tough spot.”
Things looked to be rolling along well for the Beavers in the first half. Beavercreek kept the pressure on for most of the half and played most of the first half on Northmont’s side of the field. Then with 15:44 left in the half, Sydney Cleverly scored from close range off the right side of the Northmont goal, from a corner kick assist from Taylor Harlow.
But with just over a minute remaining in the opening 40 minutes of play, the Thunderbolts’ Jordyn Lubeach launched a corner kick bender from the left side, which curved right-to-left before falling just inside the right post for the tying goal.
Thanks to the tie, Northmont is 2-0-1 in the division play. They will face Centerville on Wednesday on the road in what will likely determine the GWOC Central champ, and they wrap up their divisional schedule at home against Springfield, a team that has yet to win a Central division match.
Should Beavercreek win its final two division games — Wednesday at Springfield and then at home the following week against Kettering Fairmont — the Beavers would finish up at 3-0-2 in the GWOC Central.
If Northmont wins out, they’d be 4-0-1 and just percentage points ahead of the Beavers.
If Centerville wins out (assuming they defeated Fairmont in Centerville, Wednesday night) they’d finish at 4-0-1, just ahead as well.
“Playing Beavercreek is always a tough, physical game, but we felt that if we could shut down Sierra Peacock, that it would keep us in the game,” Northmont coach Ted Mergler said. “We put Emily Howard on Peacock for the whole game, and that was her job — to find a way to shut down their best scorer. … And you know what? We’re still in the driver’s seat for a chance to win the GWOC Central.”
Peacock leads the Beavercreek team with 11 goals, fourth most in the entire GWOC. Mergler said his team was on the defensive for most of the match.
“We knew that Beavercreek had a higher powered offense than we do, and we knew that our opportunities were probably going to be less than theirs. So because of that, by man-marking Peacock, it pulled one of our center midfielders out of the mix. So because of that it was obviously a more defensive formation. That was our game plan … Beavercreek is a really good team,” Mergler added.
Both teams have a break before they get back into divisional action. Northmont (6-5-2) has a nonleague match at home Monday against Dayton Chaminade Julienne, while Beavercreek (5-2-4) will host Pickerington North at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.