BEAVERCREEK — One by one the check marks are filling up on the goals board for Beavercreek girls lacrosse.
Shortly after the season started, head coach Michele Sorensen wanted to create a list of accomplishments to help with the team’s focus and not let it get ahead of itself. She put them on a folded poster that can be brought out as needed.
In chronological order a game against Springboro was closer to the middle of the list, but theoretically it was at the top.
“Every year it’s wanting to beat Springboro,” she said of the top goals. “It’s probably our biggest hurdle because we’ve always wanted to beat them.”
Beavercreek came back from a three-goal deficit to pull out a 13-12 win against them on Monday. It was the first time in program history the Lady Beavers got the best of the Panthers.
It’s not exactly a dream season, but it’s one that is perfect so far. Beavercreek improved to 12-0 after its Wednesday home win against Oakwood and had another game scheduled Thursday.
Several straight solid years have built the program into a respected status and set the stage for a group mixed with seniority and youth to start trying to take the next step this year.
“We’ve instantly clicked with each other,” Riley Ryan, one of the team’s captains, said. “I love every one of those girls out there. We hang outside of practice, we do team dinners. Our team chemistry is just much greater than it has been in any years before that I’ve been on varsity.”
Addison Roy, another captain, said after having 12 seniors on last year’s squad an influx of inexperience has been beneficial in unexpected ways.
“They really are eager to learn more than girls in previous year because we had so many girls who played for years and already knew the game,” she said. “This year we have a lot more eager girls to learn the game and work at it. We just have a better team connection.”
Seven of the team’s 12 wins have been by double digits. Victories against Kings and Indian Hill to start the season gave the team early confidence, but pulling out an overtime win at Milford and overcoming Springboro has raised it even more.
The win on Monday also provided some relief. Roy said the matchup was a common topic in the weeks leading up to it even as they prepared for other opponents. She said she could sense a lot of nervousness prior to the opening faceoff and it continued on during the first minutes.
“There was a lot of pressure because I got text messages from family members, old teammates, my brothers in New Jersey about it being a big game,” Ryan said. “There just felt like a lot of pressure to pull it out.”
To help calm things down, she and her teammates stuck to what they were comfortable with and tried not to play above their abilities. Whether goal scorers needed to become setup players or anything else, doing what was needed in the moment became the focus.
Tied at halftime, Springboro went ahead after the break before a flurry of goals got Beavercreek back into the lead. Some nervous minutes ended the game as they attempted to essentially ice play in a slow down game after everything prior had been much more up and down the field.
The sound of the final whistle was sweet music to the team’s ears.
“Nothing could wipe that smile off my face after that game,” Ryan said. “It was like euphoric in a way like I couldn’t believe that happened.
“We’ve played the same girls on Springboro since middle school and have never ever beaten them and in my senior year, the last chance being able to play them, it was amazing.”
Beavercreek was rated No. 6 in the latest MaxPreps state rankings released on Thursday. They sit in first place in the GWOC standings as the only undefeated team remaining in league play with two games remaining.
Ryan and Roy rank in the top-three for goals and are the top-two in assists within the league. Katie Bukiewicz joins Roy in faceoff proficiency and at the top of interceptions along with goalie Katrina Bottomley. She has made 67 saves in net in helping the team only allow 69 total goals, an average of fewer than six per game.
Even with the excellent play, Sorensen said there’s never a moment for guards to be dropped because any opponent can play harder and want to win more they her team. She knows from experience, with Beavercreek being in the other role of that mindset in years prior.
“I’m trying really hard to keep them grounded and let us focus on today,” Sorensen said. “We just had that big win, but we also have to beat this next team. It’s hard to do.”
The check marks are helping. Some are game by game, some stand out to the players as the next big step to reach.
All of them lead up to two end goals. A potential GWOC championship, and a run in the state tournament.
The drive is there to reach those achievements, according to Sorensen, and she is happy to see the extra pep in the step that comes with each win.
And with a visual focus of what’s next on the list, Beavercreek is perfect at moving to the next step so far.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.