By Scott Halasz
CENTERVILLE — Streaking toward an open goal and about to score a regional championship clinching goal, Dominic Calabrese had but one thought.
“I was like ‘Don’t mess this up,’ ” the Beavercreek junior forward said.
He almost did, but he can laugh about it now after his goal off a perfect pass from Ryan Bernt gave the Beavers a 1-0 win over Springboro, Saturday at Centerville’s Alumni Stadium.
After chipping the ball over goalkeeper Jack Steele, who came out to defend, Calabrese nearly touched the ball too far to his left as a Springboro defender closed in from behind. But he was able to slow it down and tuck his shot inside the left post with 5:16 left.
“I saw Jack the keeper coming out, I got it over him (and) I was like, ‘wow,’ ” Calabrese said. “It took me by shock. I kind of took my focus off. It was all kind of a blur.”
Beavercreek plays Columbus St. Charles in the state semifinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Xenia High School’s Doug Adams Stadium. St. Charles, ranked no. 2 in the final Division-I state poll, gave the fifth-ranked Beavers (19-1-1) their only loss with a 3-1 win Sept. 24.
The goal ended 80 minutes of agony for the normally high-scoring Beavers. They out-shot Springboro 11-5 and had several quality chances but couldn’t crack the Panthers’ keeper, who had allowed just two goals in his first five tournament games. Nine minutes in, Calabrese had a one-on-one with Steele and poked a sure goal wide right. With 10 minutes left in the match, Calabrese took a nice touch pass from Bernt and had another one-on-one but hit the left post.
“It was very frustrating,” Calabrese said. “It took a lot. We knew coming in, we would get our chances. We couldn’t finish the ball off well. (But) all of our pressure finally paid off. It’s pretty amazing.”
‘Creek Coach John Guiliano thinks the Beavers wore down the Panthers (11-6-4), who battled Beavercreek to a 3-3 tie earlier in the season.
“Our legs were still fresh,” he said. “I think our conditioning we’ve done all season helped.”
Now that the Beavers avenged their only tie, they are looking forward to making amends for the one loss.
“They’re a solid team,” Calabrese said of St. Charles. “I think we more beat ourselves than they beat us.”