SPRINGBORO — A tough early schedule for Beavercreek may pay dividends down the road, but had early signs of mental fatigue on Wednesday.
The Beavers girls soccer team played off its heels most of the evening in its league opener at Springboro, losing 3-0 to an unbeaten Panthers’ squad.
“They’re really strong in the air and we needed to match up with their speed through the midfield,” head coach Steve Popp said. “They put us under a lot of pressure.”
Beavercreek did get some of the better run of play in the first 10 minutes, but struggled to control the ball past midfield afterward.
After warding off the Springboro attack for some time, Tessa Blain scored late in the first half for the Panthers when a crossed ball from left of the net slipped through several defenders and bounced right to the spot needed to head it on net.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Springboro continued on and got out on the break when Kaitlynn Long broke down the left sideline and ended up being tripped up from behind by Lauren Ulrich in the penalty box.
Ally Schellhouse stepped in and knocked a penalty shot into the left corner of the net uncontested by the cold Emily Adams, who didn’t start the first half in net.
Less than two minutes later, it quickly began falling apart for the Beavercreek defense when a pass through the middle was found by a streaking Emma Hicks and was flipped by Adams from nearly 25 yards out.
“They only had five or six actual shots, but allowing three goals is not good on the defensive side,” Popp said.
Beavercreek was able to find some offense late in the game and got several balls near the net and two hitting off the right post, but nothing to add to the scoreboard.
“There’s no stat like that which wins you games,” Popp said of the close calls. “The offense didn’t hold up their end of the bargain to get anything in the net.”
It’s been an early gauntlet of opponents for Beavercreek this season both out of league and in. The Beavers had faced Oregon Clay, Bellbrook and Milford prior to Wednesday’s GWOC opener.
More are to come when Mount Notre Dame comes for a visit on Saturday and matchups with Hilliard Bradley, Lakota West and Centerville on the horizon.
Popp said it’s been a test each night on the pitch having scheduled many top seeds from last year’s Division I tournament, but he feels it’s important to grow as a unit while competing against the toughest schedule he can remember building for his team.
“I don’t want our players for the first time to see a Milford or a Mount Notre Dame in a tournament game,” he said. “I want them to see that this is what very good teams are like and I do want our players to compete in those games.
“Sure, we’d like to win games, obviously, and we have won a lot over the years. We’re not used to losing two in a row, but it’s all part of growing as a team.”
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.