CENTERVILLE — The best assessment of the Division I girls soccer sectional final between Beavercreek and Butler, Oct. 23 came from the press box midway through the second half.
“It seems like there are four more black players (Beavercreek’s jersey color) than white players (Butler’s jersey color) out there,” public address announcer Rob Wickline said.
While the Beavers had just the allotted 11 players, they won just about every ball in the air and were first to every loose ball making one wonder if they hadn’t snuck an extra player or two out there in a 9-0 Division I sectional final win at Centerville Alumni Stadium.
“One of the things that we take pride in is putting a lot of pressure on the ball,” Coach Steve Popp said. “We want to be first to the ball. We just like to get numbers around the ball.”
And around the goal.
Diana Benigno and Marcella Cash each scored two goals and five other players scored — all but one from inside the penalty box — to send the Beavers to the district final against Lakota West, a 4-1 upset winner over No. 4 Mercy McAuley. They play at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 at Lakota East High School.
The 19-0 Beavers, ranked No. 2 in the final state coaches poll, outshot the Aviators (7-8-3) 16-2 in beating them for the second time this season. Despite that 7-0 win Sept. 12, Beavercreek wasn’t overconfident.
“At tournament time anything can happen,” Popp said. “I think that’s one of the reasons they come out so strong and look so quick.”
It only took 1:03 for the Beavers to make sure “anything” didn’t happen. Jenna McCartney fed Cash with a ball, who touched over to Benigno, who then easily beat Butler keeper Evan Neely one-on-one. Ten minutes later Benigno scored again, unassisted.
That was more than enough for the Beavers, but they were just getting started.
Cash notched her first with 6:44 left, taking a pass from Kenedy Spalla and shaking off two defenders. Cash then made it 4-0 21 seconds later, taking a pass from Molly Bukiewicz in the box for another easy goal.
The Beavers scored four minutes into the second half when Molly Sedlock fed McCartney with a perfect pass inside the box, and then with 27:20 left Beavercreek forced a running clock when Heidi Orloff scored unassisted.
Ella Bianco made it 7-0 with 17:46 left, draining a direct kick from just outside the penalty box. The play was set up when a driving Cash was taken down by a defender. Cassie Rodriguez scored with 4:48 off an assist from Cecilia Scott to make it 8-0 and then Bukiewicz scored off an assist from Rodriguez with 3:46 left.
“From top to bottom we’ve got a real good group of players this year,” Popp said. “They work hard. They push each other at practice. Our training is tough. I think that prepares us for the game.”
With the win, the Beavers have outscored their first three tournament opponents 28-0. They haven’t allowed a goal since a 3-2 win over Springboro Sept. 8 and have given up just three goals all year. Popp expects a tougher match Saturday.
“Every Cincinnati (area) team … will be a tall order for anybody,” he said. “We have to play well.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.