WEST CARROLLTON — The Beavercreek coaching staff was well aware of Loveland’s talent. They just didn’t know how big, how fast or how aggressive the Tigers would be.
They found out during Thursday night’s Division I district title match at West Carrollton High School’s DOC Stadium. Loveland broke a 1-1 tie with 28 minutes left to play to claim the 2-1 win.
“It was a battle. Every time we come up here and play a team like Beavercreek, they’re big, physical and strong on the ball and well coached, and we knew it was going to be a battle. I think we feel fortunate to have come out on the positive end,” Loveland coach Todd Kelly said.
“The fortunate thing for me is that we had 17 players back from last season. We came in with some experience, and honestly, we put a few tweaks in this year, but we haven’t had to re-teach. I think that’s made a world of difference for us this season.”
Loveland (15-3-1) took advantage of a Beavercreek foul call with 9:40 left to play in the first half.
The Tigers Rachel Ernst launched a free kick from about 25 yards out, which rocketed its way into the upper left corner of the Beavercreek goal well before the Beavers goalkeeper could make a dive for it.
The second half saw Beavercreek play a more aggressive form of play, which enabled them to attack the Loveland goal with more frequency.
The Beavers’ Bronte Flannery launched a lengthy free kick that found its way to teammate Ali Quillen, and the Beavercreek senior hit a bouncing shot that carried over the Tigers goalie and in for the tying score, just barely two minutes into the second half.
But Loveland’s Colleen Swift sent a low roller into the right corner of the Beavers goal for the winning score with just under 28 minutes left to play.
“Loveland is a very good team. We knew they were going to be strong and fast,” Beavercreek coach Steve Popp said. “We had troubles adjusting early, but as the game went on we were doing a better job. In the second half, we made some adjustments and felt we were doing pretty well. It was just a competitive game with two good teams involved.”
The Beavers (12-4-4) lose a whole lot of seniors. Aleyna Heyman, Courtney Holzapfel, Kylie Vaughn, Emily Pfaffenbichler, Raven McCree, and co-captains Sierra Peacock, Brooke Mayes, Ali Quillen and Bronte Flannery, all played their final high school games for Beavercreek.
“The seniors have done great all year. They’ve done a really good job of leading our team. We played a lot of tough games, even today when we got behind, they were still out there working hard to motivate their teammates,” Popp said. “That whole senior class did a nice job this season and we’re gonna miss them.”
Loveland advances to Tuesday’s regional semifinals for a 7 p.m. game against Centerville. The Elks defeated Mason, 1-0, Thursday night to advance. That match is being played at Lakota East High School, in Liberty Township.
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.