What do you do as an opposing team when one player scores two first-half goals? Easy – put somebody on her.
Junior Sydney McMillin scored twice in the first half as the Delaware Hayes girls soccer team built a two-goal lead.
Then, Olentangy tasked Maddie Garner with the job of staying on McMillin.
That, plus the fact the offense kept the pressure on and managed second-half goals by Sydney Richards and Jaime Rosales, helped Olentangy to a 2-2 tie Thursday night at Cornell Stadium in Delaware.
“They showed great character coming back from an early (deficit),” Olentangy coach Earl Devanny said. “We’re really pleased with that.”
“It’s tough … we knew they’d keep coming and keep coming and keep coming,” Hayes coach Bradd Smiley said. “We were just trying to possess a little bit better in the middle and get it switched through and unfortunately they kept us from being able to do that.”
McMillin got a centering feed from McKenzie Hayes and fired right to beat the goalie with 37:17 remaining for a 1-0 lead.
“We exploited them in the first half and then they shut us down and we couldn’t get it back in the second half,” Smiley said.
McMillin almost got her second on Hayes’s next possession, but pushed it just right. Hayes had three corner-kick opportunities that turned into three saves by Olentangy goalkeeper Katie Scott to keep the deficit at one.
Then, McMillin found daylight again on the right side of the net with 25 minutes remaining to push the lead to 2-0.
“We went man-marking on (McMillin) after the second goal,” Devanny said. “We were talking about it right after the first goal, but we (waited). Maddie Garner has been doing a good job all season and she stepped up again tonight.”
Olentangy responded with a rush that saw a pair of shots miss wide before Carly Ross forced an Abby Weller save.
Olentangy had multiple free-kick and corner-kick opportunities over the final 25 minutes of the first half, but nothing paid off. Even a Rosales shot that seemed destined for the back of the net found the crossbar instead.
“We felt that between possession and shots … it wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard,” Devanny said. “But, that’s soccer.”
Olentangy (1-1-2) continued pressure in the second half. Weller made a diving save on a Kylee Beinecke shot to maintain the shutout in the 42nd minute.
That pressure finally paid off when Richards headed in a Ross corner to get Olentangy on the board with 28:58 remaining.
Hayes (1-1-3) continued to play solid defense on Olentangy’s rush. Payje Wilson got in on the action saving a pair of shots, including one off her head, over the next 10 minutes to keep Hayes in front.
But, Olentangy broke through the middle to tie it up. Kayla Primm led Rosales through with 16:58 remaining.
“We were really impressed with Jaime Rosales – who had to step in and take over for (Rachel Austin), who had a broken ankle,” Devanny said. “(Rosales) is showing a character and a maturity that you don’t usually see out of freshman. We’re really pleased with that.”
Olentangy appeared to score the go-ahead goal in the 72nd minute when Beinecke centered to Bailey Hall, who went left. But, Hall was called offside.
Weller finished with 13 saves for the Pacers and Scott stopped four shots for Olentangy in the first meeting between the two former OCC-Capital foes since the league realigned after the 2015-16 school year.
“When we play for each other and we play as a team – we can be dangerous,” Smiley said. “Even though we’re young and we’re still trying to mesh … when we start connecting we look dangerous. We just gotta get that consistency. Unfortunately, that comes with the youth of our team.”
Next up, Olentangy hosts Grove City in non-league play Saturday at 7:15 p.m. Hayes is off until Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. when it welcomes OCC-Cardinal foe Hilliard Darby.
Also: Dublin Jerome 3, Olentangy Liberty 2; Olentangy Orange 1, Marysville 1.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.