MONROE — Whether the massive bull’s eye on their collective backs was just too heavy, or they just ran into a Loveland Tigers bunch that seems to be hot at just the right time, Beavercreek’s state record 43 consecutive win streak came to a halt Tuesday, Oct. 29 at Monroe High School.
Loveland(16-3-0), a fifth seed in the Division I Southwest 4 Bracket, seemed to get to the loose balls more in the first half. The team’s outside speed occasionally put the favored and top-seeded, defending state champion Beavers on their heels, and the Tigers’ ability to fire hard shots off rebounds proved to be the difference maker in a 3-2 Loveland win, in the Division I regional semifinals.
Beavercreek coach Steve Popp was gracious in defeat.
“Loveland played a great match,” Popp said. “But we played really hard to get ourselves back into the game, too. Overall, I think it was just a great game. When we were down 3-2 (in the second half), we had many chances to even the score at three. Both teams played hard in this regional match. … This was a really good game.”
Future University of Dayton Flyer Diana Benigno pulled Beavercreek within a goal, 3-2, with a score off of Cassie Rodriguez’ kick as the result of a Loveland foul , with 29:12 left to play in the match. The Beavers had three corner kick opportunities in the second half, to none for Loveland, but just couldn’t put the ball in the goal.
“That was a great match,” agreed Loveland’s coach Todd Kelly. “All our players were stars on this night, and everybody had to play their best to beat a tremendous Beavercreek team. They’re a great team, they’re well coached. Steve is a tremendous coach and he’s built a tremendous program over there. They have my utmost respect.”
Loveland led 3-1 at the break. Caroline Florea grabbed a rebound of a deflected shot on goal, then launched a quick blast from the right side for a score with 23:01 left in the opening half.
Loveland scored on a throw-in with 11:52 left in the half, this time it was Lauren Donovan cleaning up the rebound for a score and a 2-0 Loveland lead.
‘Creek’s Benigno launched a long-range shot from about 30 yards out into the upper left corner of the Loveland goal to pull the Beavers within a score at the 5:55 mark, but Loveland responded with a score barely a minute later.
Maria Bashardoust’s initial scoring try was cleared, but again Donovan was there for the rebound score, this time with 4:38 left in the opening half.
Loveland will now advance to play West Chester Lakota West (a 5-2 winner over Cincinnati Seton) in the regional finals on Saturday, Nov. 2 at a neutral location yet to be determined.
The Tigers hadn’t been scored upon in the postseason until Tuesday night. Loveland had recorded nine shutouts in their previous 11 matches.
The loss ends Beavercreek’s state-record setting 43-match winning streak, and Popp enjoyed reflecting on the amazing run.
“Between last year and this year, that was an amazing run by our players,” he said. “It may never be broken again in girls soccer, with how even the teams are becoming. They worked hard, played hard and they worked hard as a team. It’s so rare, who knows when that will happen again?”
Olivia Baker, Maria Crawford, Morgan Currier, Heidi Orloff, Benigno, Kate Helton, Maddie Nartker, Kaileigh Nuessgen, and MollyBukiewicz played their final match for Beavercreek.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.