LIBERTY TOWNSHIP — Even when their vaunted ball control offense wasn’t working, the Beavercreek Beavers still had plenty of firepower to win their second Division I girls high school district soccer championship in three years.
Top-seeded Beavercreek unleashed a vicious counter attack in beating upstart Lakota West, 4-1, Oct. 27 at Lakota East High School. Junior Marcella Cash had three goals and junior Heidi Orloff added one as Beavercreek improved to 20-0-0 overall and earned a regional semifinal match against Mount Notre Dame, the No. 5 seed from Cincinnati, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30 at Mason High School. The winner gets No. 1 Loveland or No. 3 Mason.
“It’s very difficult to win a district in southwest Ohio,” Coach Steve Popp said. “We’re very happy and we feel fortunate that we were able to win the district tonight. It was a tough game. It wasn’t easy by no means doing it. They really did a good job putting the pressure on us the entire game. They definitely gave us some problems.”
Beavercreek had defeated its first three tournament opponents 28-0, but the Firebirds made the Beavers work for every opportunity they could generate and didn’t allow the Beavers to control the game flow. Accustomed to scoring early and often, it took Beavercreek 12 minutes to finally get a goal when Cash took a long pass from Orloff, turned to cut off one defender and then toyed with another before beating the keeper on a right-to-left shot.
“The defenders were coming up to me and I knew they weren’t going to hold there,” Cash said. “And I knew right when the girls on our team looked up to spin off (the defender) and they weren’t going to have enough time to turn around and find me back there.”
In other words, it was a textbook counter attack.
Cash did it again with 13:53 left in the match, taking a pass from senior Ella Bianco, dribbling into the penalty box and easily beating the keeper. Lakota West nearly scored with 6:36 left when a player put a shot off the post, but that misfortune led to another goal from Cash.
Sophomore Maggie Holstein took the carom off the miss, quickly fed the ball to a streaking Cash, who dribbled in and powered the ball into the goal.
With 4:39 left, the Firebirds (10-7-2) became the first team to score on the Beavers since Sept. 8 — a span of 14 straight shutouts — when sophomore Brooke Brockman took advantage of a misclear by the Beavercreek defense.
“I headed it back on accident and then the one defender got beat and (Brockman) made a good shot,” Bianco said.
But ‘Creek came right back less than a minute later when Diana Benigno fed Orloff with a cross for a nifty goal with 3:46 left.
“We do have the ability to score quickly,” Popp said, “to get the ball out and to get forward and counter. Ball control didn’t get us through the game tonight, our counter attack did. It’s hard for (Lakota West) to play a game as good as they did and not come out on top. They played every bit good enough to win this game tonight. I think we were fortunate we only gave up one. They had some good opportunities going forward.”
But the Beavercreek defense remained stingy, despite giving up a goal for the first time in more than 1,260 game minutes.
“No goals,” Bianco said. “That’s the saying we use, no goals. We can’t let any goals in.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.