BEAVERCREEK — A retiring Cincinnati Reds broadcaster may have predicted Wednesday night’s match between once beaten Springboro and undefeated defending state champ Beavercreek to be a ‘Titanic struggle,’ but the Beavers’ persistent pressure simply proved too much for the visiting Panthers to handle in a 5-1 Beavercreek win at Frank Zink Field.
Co-captains Diana Benigno and Tiernan McKitrick each scored twice, then Maggie Holstein closed out the scoring with a late goal. Kaileigh Nuessgen grabbed an assist off a corner kick for McKitrick’s first goal, and Nuessgen launched the corner kick for Benigno’s second score. Senior defender Kate Helton was credited with the assist on Holstein’s score.
‘Creek coach Steve Popp said his players definitely didn’t take Springboro lightly.
“We knew this was going to be a difficult game,” Popp said. “Springboro is always a very difficult team to play, because they are very strong. We just tried to have a pace of play that would maybe wear them down a little. We had 20 field players available that we could run in, and we wanted to keep them rotating in and out to try and control the pace of the game.”
Springboro’s goal seemed to surprise everybody.
Roughly 13 minutes into the first half, Springboro senior captain Natalie Haverland launched a lazy roller toward the Beavercreek goal, where it appeared to skip off goalie Mariah Crawford’s hands and bounce in for the score.
Benigno’s first goal came on a penalty kick after a Springboro defender was called for a handball deep in the box. Benigno’s original shot had been cleared, but the senior raced in to grab the deflection and punch the ball in for the score.
McKitrick gave Beavercreek a 2-1 halftime lead when she knocked a header into the left corner of the Panthers goal off a Nuessgen corner kick with 57 ticks left in the half.
Benigno scored her second goal as the result of another Nuessgen corner. Her shot also scored into the left side of the Springboro goal.
McKitrick’s second goal was the result of a long-range direct kick from about 40 yards out on the right side. Her shot just fell under the Panther goal crossbar, and over the outstretched hands of the Springboro goalie for the score.
Holstein then closed out the match by racing past the Panther goalie, who had tried coming out to deflect the ball. She then jogged toward the goal and knocked in a soft left-to-right shot for the final score.
“Tiernan McKitrick is a defender, so it was nice to see her score two goals for us tonight,” Popp said. “That doesn’t happen very often for a defender, so that was really nice to see.”
Springboro is now 8-2-1 overall, and still in first place in the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s National division with a 4-1-0 divison record. The Panthers are at Centerville for their next match on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
Beavercreek stays unbeaten at 11-0-0, 5-0-0 GWOC American, they will head to Troy next for a 7 p.m. game on Monday, Sept. 30.
“We’ve got 11 wins under out belt now, and it’s time to focus on Troy,” Popp said. “We’ve got some things we still need to work on, and we’ll continue to work on improving this week in practice.”
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.