SPRINGFIELD — Playing with the same kind of poise and aggressiveness that earned themselves a regional title a few days earlier, undefeated Beavercreek used the same kind of play to punch themselves a reservation to the state championship game in Columbus, on Tuesday.
Beavercreek (21-0-0) got a pair of first-half goals by Marcella Cash, then held on to withstand a late Columbus Watterson rally, to claim a 2-1 win, Nov. 6 in the Division I state semifinal match at Evans Stadium. Beavers coach Steve Popp said the team just plays better when they’re aggressive.
“We’ve just always been a better team when we are trying to continually attack,” he said. “Teams can sometimes sit back (after grabbing a two-goal lead), and just kind of pack things back a bit on defense, but I don’t know. We’ve just never been a team to do that.
“We knew that Watterson was going to fight, and play hard and come back in the second half and try to make a run at us. So we came out wanting to get that third goal, which would’ve given us a bit more separation, but at the same time, we were still trying to be smart defensively too.”
Cash blasted her first score in the 15th minute, a sharp left-to-right drive past the Eagles goalkeeper, from about 20 or so yards away.
That goal looked as if it would be the only score of the half, but then Cash scored from the right side with 18 seconds yet to play in the first half for the 2-0 lead.
Just as Popp had expected, Watterson (18-2-2) did battle back.
First, the Eagles appeared to have scored just nine minutes into the second half, on a close-range header from the left side by Erin Connor, but the score was waved off due to an offsides call.
Watterson, ranked No. 6 in Ohio, set up a corner kick with 1:05 to go, and did manage to convert the scoring try, with 65 seconds left to play.
“Good question. I have no idea who scored that goal for us,” Watterson coach Scott Dempsey admitted afterward. “… It was a great game from start to finish. Right now, I think we’re wishing that we would have come out and played a bit stronger in the first half, but it was definitely a state tournament type of game.”
In celebration, Popp hooked his right arm, pointed with the left and did a victory dab, which drew cheers from the Beavercreek players.
“Yeah, I still don’t know what that is,” he laughed. “I think I saw George Clooney do it once. So I figured that if he could do it, I could do it.”
No. 2 -ranked Beavercreek will face No. 3 Strongsville, a 1-0 winner Tuesday night over No. 8 Twinsburg in the other state semi, in the Division I state championship match. That match will be held Friday at MAPFRE Stadium, the home of the Columbus Crew professional soccer team, in Columbus. According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association, the time for that match had yet to be determined.
“It’s really exciting, but we still have a lot of work to do in these next few days of practice,” senior defender Ella Bianco said. She along with senior goalkeeper Lauren Galloway are co-captains this season. “We played OK. I don’t think it was our best game, and we definitely let down in the back a few times. The goal shouldn’t’ve happened, but we put two goals away and that’s all that matters. We came out with the win.”
Friday’s match will be the Beavercreek girls soccer program’s very first match for the state championship. The last time they had reached the state semifinals was in 2004.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.