By Scott Halasz
BELLBROOK — Soccer ties are typically no fun.
But Bellbrook girls soccer coach Zach Huffman isn’t complaining too much after a 1-1 draw with first-place Monroe Tuesday at Miami Valley South Stadium. In fact, he was quite pleased.
The Golden Eagles fell behind about six minutes into the game, but recovered to dominate most of the action after the Hornet’s initial surge.
And Huffman finally had a chance to coach the team he envisioned after making final cuts, as injuries and illness always kept the Golden Eagles short on players.
“Today we had everybody back and seemed like we were starting to click,” Huffman said. “That was the most complete game we played all season.”
Bellbrook controlled things at both ends.
The always-stingy Bellbrook defense limited Monroe (11-1-1 overall, 7-0-2 Southwestern Buckeye League) to just two shots (unofficially) and only one in the game’s final 74:39. The one that wasn’t saved found the back of the net with 34:39 left in the first half when Monroe’s Kailey Ivins took a pass, dribbled unmarked right to left and launched a left-footed shot into the right upper 90 for her 14th goal.
“Our keeper had no chance,” Huffman said. “We were just a step too late. Going down early was tough.”
But Bellbrook equalized things about 13 minutes later when junior Audrey Spirk out-raced the Monroe goalie to a through ball from sophomore Hailee Adams. Spirk out-powered the keeper, who went down hard, and had an easy tap-in for a goal just inside the penalty box.
“It showed a lot of character that we fought back,” Huffman said.
The Golden Eagles (6-3-3, 6-1-2 SWBL) kept fighting and had other scoring chances.
The best chance came eight minutes into the second half when senior Natalie Stein crossed to junior Lauren Chew, whose header from point-blank range was just wide left. Bellbrook continued to pressure the Monroe defense, but always seemed to be a tad late in creating legitimate opportunities.
“We were just one pass away from that golden chance,” Huffman said
Monroe nearly won the game with 1:15 left when a corner kick was headed off the inside of the post during a scrum. It was eventually cleared by Bellbrook.
Despite being a game behind Monroe with three SWBL matches left, the Golden Eagles can still win the Southwestern Division title. Monroe has Oakwood, Brookville and a make-up match with Valley View next week to end the season. Valley View and Monroe tied, 2-2, Sept. 27.
Bellbrook plays Oakwood, Thursday. and then Brookville and Eaton — teams with losing league records — next week.
“It’s not easy for (Monroe),” Huffman said. “If we win out … we could share the league.”
With Monroe. Again.