MIAMISBURG — An early Knights goal set the tempo, then a pair of early scores set the tone as Alter ended Bellbrook’s postseason run with a 3-1 win, Oct. 30, in the Division II girls high school soccer regional semifinals match on Miamisburg High School’s Holland Field.
Alter senior forward Nicolette Anuci scored from short range with barely eight minutes gone in the opening half of play. The score by the Knights’ top goal scorer (her 14th of the season) was the only score of the first half, but it forced Bellbrook (13-5-2) to switch to a more offensive oriented lineup in the second half.
“Coming out in the second half, we knew we had to score. So we decided to switch things up a bit,” Bellbrook coach Zach Huffman explained. “Unfortunately, they got behind us twice and put two more in.”
Within the first three minutes of the second half, Alter (16-2-2) put those two second-half goals in the Bellbrook net within 66 seconds of each other.
First, Grace Haines took a crossing pass from the right and chipped in a score to give the Knights a 2-0 lead at 38:21 of the second half.
Then, Anna Sweeney found herself unmarked behind the Bellbrook defense on the left side of the Golden Eagles’ goal and knocked in a shot for a 3-0 Alter lead with just over 37 minutes left to play in the contest.
Bellbrook junior forward Sydney Hollingsworth took a pass from Bailey Sedlak and buried the ball into the Alter goal with 13:56 left to play, but the Golden Eagles could draw no further.
“I just talked with the girls and told them that we’re on this regional semifinal plateau … and it sucks,” Bellbrook coach Zach Huffman said. “But I know there are 200-some other schools in Ohio that would love to be on this plateau with us. I don’t know how many schools in the state have won three straight district championships, but I know it’s not many.
“Although we’re obviously disappointed, I can’t be more proud of the girls.”
Alter advances to the Southwest Regional final against Cincinnati-area schools Indian Hill or Summit Country Day, on Saturday, Nov. 3, at a time and neutral location yet to be determined.
“I was very proud of them. They stuck to the game plan pretty well, especially in the second half,” Alter coach Javier Iriart said. “We were trying to get more runners into the middle. And about five minutes into the second half, they executed … twice.
“This is a really intelligent group of kids, and they’re very driven, which helps.”
Stoic in defeat, Bellbrook coach Huffman’s emotions got the best of him as he tried to describe the importance of his nine seniors. With tears welling up in his eyes, Huffman said the seniors — Claire Baker, Shannon Reuber, Rachel Reuber, Cassi Hennen, Hailee Adams, Carlee Shindlebower, and tri-captains Jade Midtlien, Abby Judge and Jade Edwards — accomplished a milestone that will be tough for future Bellbrook classes to match.
“This is the first time we’ve ever won three district championships in a row. First time, ever. We’d been to three in a row, but we had not won three in a row,” he said. “And that’s … that’s on them. … They’re a great group of kids. And honestly, that’s what you want. You want good kids, first. You want good soccer players, second.
“Thankfully, they’re great kids and they’re great soccer players, too. And they will really be missed.”
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.