COLUMBUS — The Olentangy girls soccer team evened things at one with a goal midway through the first half, but Strongsville scored what proved to be the game-winner 1:35 before the break on the way to a 3-1 win in the OHSAA Division I State Championship Friday night at MAPFRE Stadium.
The Mustangs, who punctuated a perfect 20-0 season with their fifth state title in program history, were aggressive early. They got on the board less than 10 minutes into the game when Shelby Sallee got to a loose ball in front of the net and drilled it over the head of Braves keeper Katie Scott and into the back of the net.
Coley Sidloski took the initial shot, which deflected off a wall of Olentangy defenders before falling to the foot of Sallee, who took care of the rest.
The Braves (18-3-2) showed they’re more than capable of playing from behind after scoring four unanswered goals after falling into an early hole in Tuesday’s state semifinal against Centerville, and showed plenty of poise in the stretch of play immediately following Sallee’s tally.
They nearly evened things up a few minutes later when Lexi White found Kylee Beinecke with a centering pass in front of the Strongsville goal, but Beinecke’s one-touch shot slipped just wide of the mark.
The two reversed roles 16:25 into the half, though, cashing in when Beinecke dribbled to the corner and sent a cross to White, who calmly converted the chance in traffic to get the game back to even.
Things stayed that way for a while, too, partly due to a stellar save from Scott on a shot from Peyton Felton. The midfielder got a good look from in close with about 10 minutes left in the half, but Scott dove and got enough of it to deflect the ball off the crossbar and out of harm’s way.
The Mustangs continued to attack into the late stages of the half, finally breaking through when Taylor Demmerle scored off a feed from Sidloski to give her team a 2-1 edge 1:35 before the break.
It was a lead Strongsville, which outshot Olentangy 22-4 in the win, wouldn’t relinquish.
The Mustangs, who outscored their opponents 98-7 entering the state showcase, had 15 shutouts over the course of the season … and that defense was on full display in the second half.
The Braves battled, but got off just one shot in the second half — a free kick from Rachel Austin from about 40 yards out that keeper Abby Kulda caught on the fly.
Strongsville, meanwhile, put the finishing touches on the win with a Sidloski goal off a pass from Libby Majka, who chipped a pass over the Olentangy back line to set things up. Sidloski tracked down the lob and got off a shot just before a hard-charging Scott could get to her, smoothing out the scoring summary with 15:31 to play in the game.
Scott finished with 12 saves in the setback while Kulda had two saves for Strongsville.