RIVERSIDE — Bellbrook sought to set the tone of the Division I sectional semifinal soccer match with an early goal as they faced off against the Patriots of Carroll. However, the Patriots rallied against Bellbrook over the course of the evening, adjusting to the play style of their aggressive opponents. The Patriots’ ability to adapt and overcome was on full display Oct. 17, and Carroll moves on to the sectional final versus Springboro with a 7-2 victory.
Bellbrook’s Chloe Crompton started the game in explosive style, scoring Bellbrook’s first goal within 60 seconds of the first whistle. Carroll, however, responded in kind almost as quickly, with back to back goals from Jillian Roberts and Ava Lickliter around the 35-minute mark. Leading 2-1, the Patriots were forced back into their own territory multiple times in the first half, as Bellbrook made several aggressive attacks at the Patriots box.
The Patriots held onto their defensive edge, however, and were able to gain possession back near the end of the first half. Roberts broke away up right field and crossed the ball to Lickliter for the score with seven minutes remaining in the half, and Roberts netted herself another goal off a rebound from a Bellbrook defender.
In the second half, Carroll locked down its defense. Senior Amelia Harlow routinely swept the ball from Bellbrook’s possession on each push, and sophomores Kacy Walsh and Ellie Mason kept a cap on the goal from the wings as well.
With 33 minutes left in the game, Roberts and fellow senior Cat McNamara executed a pair of goals almost identical in strategy: Roberts drove hard up left field and centered the ball to McNamara inside the box. McNamara scrummed with the defenders, and both times the Bellbrook defense failed to rip the ball from McNamara’s possession before she turned and slammed it home.
Carroll’s final goal of the night came from senior Allie Stefanek on an assist from senior Alaina Casey with just under 30 minutes left in the game. Bellbrook’s second string was able to make up some of their losses in the last five minutes, as Alyssa Lemos sent the ball over the keeper’s hands on a penalty kick for the score.
Despite the victory by a wide margin, Carroll coach Sarah Flach won’t let her girls get too comfortable.
“We knew this was going to be a battle because we saw Bellbrook during the season, and it’s hard to beat a good team twice,” Flach said. “Especially in soccer when the teams are really even, if you get good bounces it could go either way. We’ll see that with Springboro on Monday, I’m sure it will be a hard-fought win for whoever wins. This being even just the second game of the tournament is a testament to how difficult Division I is. It just gets harder from here. We’ll probably have to play our best game of the season to win on Monday.”
That 7 p.m. Monday Oct. 21 game against Springboro will take place at Centerville High School.
London Bishop is a freelance sportswriter for Greene County News.