LEWIS CENTER – For the third straight year, the Olentangy Orange girls soccer team will get a chance to make history by winning a district championship.
This time, the Pioneers will get that chance because they scored three times in the second half to beat Big Walnut 4-1 in a Division I district semifinal Wednesday night.
Camryn Earl’s centering pass found Abby Faulkner for the go-ahead goal with exactly 30 minutes left to give the third-seeded Pioneers the lead for good after the Eagles had tied it with one second left in the first half.
“Huge credit to the girls to be able to respond the way they did in the second half,” Orange coach Tim Lawrence said. “A lot of teams – that would get stuck in their head.”
The 13th-seeded Golden Eagles seemed to snag momentum when Emma Barnett scored with one second left in the half off a corner kick.
Alexis Schone touched the corner to Carly Hershberger, who centered. Two Eagles got off shots that were blocked the by the Pioneer defense before Barnett’s touch put it in the back of the net with one second left in the first half.
The Barnett goal tied the score 1-1 after Payton Kaufman’s free kick from about 25 yards out had given the Pioneers an early lead just over eight minutes into the contest.
The Pioneers put the game out of reach when Grace Poorbaugh rebounded a Sophia Leonetti penalty shot to push the lead to 3-1 with 19:24 remaining.
“It was kind of (like) playing against us,” Orange midfielder Secora Johnson said. “It was kind of difficult – it took a second to get used to. But I think we’re good at breaking down teams. I think that’s one of our strengths.”
Maia Kaufman added the game’s final goal two and a half minutes later off a Johnson assist that was started on a Payton Kaufman corner.
“They scored and we didn’t,” BW coach Chris Allen said. “I’m not sure what else you could or would say. You gotta get the ball in the back of the net and they did.”
BW made the jump to Division I from Division II this year. It’ll be the first time the Eagles haven’t played for a district title since 2014 after winning three consecutive, including the last two years where they made the Division II state final four.
“We’ve done a lot of big things in the last four years,” Allen said. “(There’s) nothing to be ashamed about – (our seniors) had great careers. Obviously, we were hoping to move forward, but the other team got the better of us.”
Payton Carter had three saves in goal for the Eagles (11-4-3) and Amanda Poorbaugh stopped two shots for the Pioneers (12-3-2).
Orange faces sixth-seeded Bishop Watterson for a district championship Saturday at 7 p.m. at Dublin Jerome.
The Pioneers fell to Olentangy 2-1 in a district final last season and 3-1 to Olentangy Liberty in a district final two years ago.
“Nothing’s finished, but we’re at least to that game,” Lawrence said. “We have that opportunity.”
Also: New Albany 2, Olentangy Berlin 1 (Division I district semifinal); Hilliard Bradley 1, Olentangy 0, SO (Division I district semifinal); Granville 9, Buckeye Valley 0 (Division II district semifinal)
Olentangy Orange lived up to its top seed in Wednesday’s Division I district semifinal at Central Crossing, cruising past 24th-seeded Pickerington Central in straight sets.
The Pioneers won the first set 25-10 and used a 6-0 run to turn a 3-3 tie into an early 9-3 lead in the second. Addie Evans and London Davis both had aces during the run, which Orange parlayed into a 25-12 second-set win.
The Tigers got to within a point late in the third, 17-16, but the Pioneers used another run, this time a 8-1 surge, to cement a match-clinching 25-17 win.
Next up, Orange will take on 14th-seeded Grove City — which upset 11th-seeded Big Walnut 26-24, 25-22, 15-25, 25-21 in Wednesday’s other semifinal — in Saturday’s district final back at Central Crossing. Game time is set for 4 p.m.
Ohio Wesleyan 1, Kenyon 0
DePauw 1, Ohio Wesleyan 0
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.