CLAYTON — In order to set the state record for consecutive wins without a tie or a loss, Beavercreek had to go to Northmont’s field, and take the record from the very school that has held the girls varsity soccer record for 33 years.
And in order to take that record from the Thunderbolts, the visiting Beavers had to figure out how to score against Northmont’s stingy defense.
As Beavercreek coach Steve Popp so aptly put it, the team ‘found a way.”
“It’s just a bunch of dedicated players who work really hard. We train hard, and we never give up even when things aren’t going very well. … Motto might not be the right word, but we always tell each other ‘we’ll find a way.”
After a scoreless first half, the way led to three Beavercreek goals in the second half for a 3-0 win, Wednesday Oct. 9 at Northmont High.
That ‘way’ involved the Beavers pushing deeper into Northmont territory, and constantly applying offensive pressure against the Thunderbolt defenders and talented goalie Taylor Pritchett.
Most of the second half was played well into Northmont’s side of the pitch.
Junior defender Kesley Louderback scored the first goal with 19:38 left in the match from close range.
Roughly six minutes later, Diana Benigno was hit hard and taken down within the ‘Bolts box to set up a penalty kick. Senior midfielder Morgan Currier took the kick and launched a hard kick into the right side of the goal past a diving Pritchett, to give Beavercreek a 2-0 score.
With just over 10 minutes left in the match, junior midfielder Cassie Rodridguez then scored for the final 3-0 outcome.
A Northmont team from 1984-‘86 had held the previous winning streak record at 39, and so coach Ted Mergler and his Thunderbolts showed plenty of determination, especially in the first half, of retaining that record.
“They’re goalie is the real deal. She played tough against us before, so we knew that she would be a challenge for us, and she definitely was,” Popp said. “When we get in tough games, we find a way, and that’s what we’ve done all year long.”
Beavercreek finishes the regular season with a 16-0-0 record, 8-0-0 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s American division. They haven’t lost a match since Oct. 26, 2017 when they lost a late-round tournament match to Mason.
The Beavers have a first-round bye in the Division I sectional tournament, then will play the winner of either Stebbins or Springfield in the second round on Oct. 17 in Beavercreek.
Northmont falls to 7-7-1 overall, and 2-5-0 in the GWOC National. The ‘Bolts are the No. 6 seed in the same bracket as the Beavers, and could possibly face Beavercreek once again.
The Thunderbolts face Miamisburg in the first round on Oct. 14. Should they win that match, as they’re favored to do, they’d face Vandalia Butler on Oct. 17. A win would set up a rematch with the Beavers on Monday, Oct. 21 at Xenia’s Doug Adams Stadium for the sectional final.