Kaelyn Valleau continued her string of stellar play, scoring on a breakaway midway through the second half to account for the game’s lone goal and lift Olentangy Orange to a 1-0 regional semifinal win over Olentangy Berlin Tuesday night in Sunbury.
The Pioneers controlled the run of play in the first half, but took a page out of the Bears’ book for the second-half goal.
With Berlin applying some pressure, trying to break the scoring seal with close-range shots from Cameron Susey and Fina Davy, Valleau leaked out after a Bears’ corner kick came up empty.
Her teammates found her in stride and, after beating a defender to set up a one-on-one opportunity with Berlin keeper Claire Walden, she calmly slipped it just inside the near post to break the scoring seal and account for what proved to be the difference in the game with 19:01 left.
The goal was the eighth of the postseason for Valleau, who scored single tallies against Central Crossing, Olentangy and now Berlin to go with her five-goal performance in the district semifinal round.
Berlin, which didn’t possess the ball a ton in a scoreless first half, generated a few decent looks the exact same way in the early going, but couldn’t get past Orange’s organized back line or beat keeper Jadia Kershaw, who made some solid saves down the stretch to preserve the win.
Berlin looked to get back to even with a free kick from about 20 yards out shortly after the goal, but couldn’t find the back of the net as Davy’s blast hit the Orange wall and bounced out of harm’s way.
Davy worked free for a cross with about 12 minutes left, but it never connected.
The Bears’ desperate push for an equalizer almost paid off as Reese Hinkle kept a ball in play along the sideline and lofted a long-range shot over Kershaw, but it went just over the crossbar, too, landing on the back of the net and resulting in an Orange goal kick.
Berlin, awarded a free kick after a foul just outside of the box, had one last good look with just under two minutes left, but Hinkle’s blast hit the crossbar.
Orange, which played the last handful of minutes like a hockey team trying to kill off a penalty, held on from there to punch a ticket to Saturday’s regional final against Dublin Jerome — a 2-1 winner in its regional semi against New Albany. Action is set to get underway at 4 p.m. in Marysville.