By Steve Freeze
For Greene County Sports
LIBERTY TOWNSHIP — The Bellbrook High School girls soccer team had its nine-game winning streak – and its season – come crashing to an end on Tuesday night, losing 2-0 to Cincinnati McNicholas in the Regional semifinals of the Division II tournament at Lakota East High School.
McNick carries an even more impressive streak into the Regional finals against the winner of Archbishop Kettering Alter and Big Walnut which was also being played on Tuesday night. The Rockets have not lost since the season opener at Loveland back on Aug. 20.
“I talked to three coaches that have played (McNicholas) recently and all three said that was the best team they’d faced all season,” said Eagles’ coach Zach Huffman.
Knowing that, Huffman said he was proud of how close his girls played the Rockets , who have outscored opponents 20-1 in the postseason.
“We didn’t get many chances and, against a team like that, you have to finish the ones you get,” said Huffman. “But they didn’t get a lot of chances, either.”
And many of the chances McNicholas did get were corralled by Eagles’ goalkeeper Bekah Vine.
“She’s a big reason for the success we did have this season,” said Huffman.
With the offense unable to get untracked, the two that did slip past proved too costly to overcome.
McNicholas scored on either side of halftime with two similar goals.
With 9:12 remaining in the opening half, Megan Rack sprung free from the right fullback position and moved the ball down the right sideline. Her cross found Amy Farr in the box who chested it down, took a slight touch to steady herself and pounded the ball into the right side of the goal.
The Rockets added to the lead with 14:56 to go in the game when Kaitlyn Vogele broke free in almost identical fashion down the left side. She played a cross to the feet of Rockets’ leading scorer Sophie Gorman who eased the ball a step to her right and then knocked her 20th goal of the season into the net.
“We knew they liked to play wide and they just happened to hit a couple of open shots,” said Huffman.
Bellbrook had won nine straight beginning with a win at Oakwood on Oct. 6. The win streak included upset tournament wins over third-seeded Tipp City Tippecanoe and second seed Dayton Carroll (the Eagles were a four seed).
“I think we were kind of viewed as underdogs,” said Eagles’ senior Natalie Stein. “(The win streak) just shows what the Bellbrook program is all about. I think it gets overlooked, how much talent is on this team.”
“It’s been a phenomenal season,” added senior teammate Mahleah Miracle. “I can’t believe it’s over. There are not enough words to describe how proud I am of the team this season. I think that’s the thing about tournament play – you earn your spot each step of the way.”
Steve Freeze is a freelance sportswriter for Greene County News.