Pioneers secure 1st district championship


By Michael Rich - For the Gazette



DUBLIN – Sophia Leonetti’s goal was a slow-roller that seemingly took minutes to cross the goal line. But, when it finally did, the Olentangy Orange girls soccer team had all the goals it needed to capture the school’s first district championship.

The Pioneers topped Bishop Watterson 2-0 in a district final Saturday night at Dublin Jerome.

Leonetti’s goal came with 4:58 left in the game and Grace Poorbaugh added some insurance off a free kick with 1:06 left for the second-seeded Pioneers (14-2-4).

“I didn’t know it was going in until the last second,” Leonetti said. “I just wanted it so bad and the momentum was kicking in. I just went for it and bodied up. I think I got a toe on it after (a pair of Watterson defenders) came in and that was enough.”

“When I looked at it I thought, ‘That’s got a good angle on it,’” Orange coach Tim Lawrence said. “It took a while, but the keeper was beat. So, it was just a matter of getting inside the post.”

Amanda Poorbaugh, who has been playing with a cast on her right arm after fracturing it in the season finale against Westerville North on Oct. 10, had six saves for the clean sheet.

“When I broke my arm the doctor gave me a choice to play or not,” the goalkeeper said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I wanna play’ because I love this team so much. My sister is a senior and I wasn’t ready for the season to end, so I knew I had to keep playing.”

She made a couple of key saves within a two-minute stretch in the middle of the second half.

“It’s kind of awkward catching the ball, but you just gotta play through it,” she said.

The Pioneers taste victory in a district final for the first time after back-to-back losses in each of the last two years.

“Big night for us – what a season these girls have had,” Lawrence said. “The seniors have really pushed us. Look who scored the two goals – two captains, who have been here for three years in a row playing in this game. It’s just outstanding. I’m so happy for them – they deserved it.”

Now, they get Marysville in a regional semifinal Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Jerome. The Monarchs handed Orange its last loss – a 1-0 setback Sept. 12. The Pioneers are 9-0-2 since then, including six consecutive wins.

“Marysville gave us our only loss on our home field – no better motivation than that,” Lawrence said. “So we’re excited about that.”

Annie McGraw stopped six shots in goal for the sixth-seeded Eagles (11-5-3), who played Orange to a 1-1 tie Sept. 7 when Julia Flanagan scored with 11 seconds left in the game.

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By Michael Rich

For the Gazette

Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at mrichnotwealthy@gmail.com.

Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at mrichnotwealthy@gmail.com.