The Olentangy girls soccer team is tough to beat no matter what the circumstances of a given game are.
When the Braves strike first, though, they’re almost impossible to catch.
They struck first in Tuesday’s Division I regional semifinal against host Upper Arlington. They struck second and third, too, rolling out to a three-goal lead they parlayed into a dominant 3-1 win.
Both teams earned corner kicks in the first 10 minutes of action, but nothing came from either one. Olentangy broke the scoring seal shortly after, though, going up 1-0 when Rachel Austin fired a rebound into the back of the net with 22 minutes to play in the half.
Kylee Beinecke used her speed to set up the scoring sequence, collecting the ball at midfield and beating a couple Upper Arlington defenders down the left sideline. She ripped a shot past the keeper, Sally Patton, but hit the post. Patton tried to jump on the deflection, but Austin was able to poke it past her before she could corral it.
The Golden Bears nearly had an equalizer a few minutes later, but Olentangy keeper Katie Scott reacted well to a high shot from Camryn Callaghan, punching it over the crossbar and out of harm’s way. UA got a corner out of it, but couldn’t take advantage of the chance.
Down 1-0 at the break, the Bears put some pressure on the Braves’ defense early in the second half. The back line — Helena Ronnebaum, Katie McDowell, Erin McElroy and Sydney Burrs — was up to the task, though, as was Scott.
Upper Arlington’s best chance came with about 30 minutes to play. Hallie Clark found some space behind the back line, which had kept pretty much everything in front of it up to that point. Scott came out to challenge her, but Clark got a shot off, past a sliding Clark and destined for the net … that is until McElroy raced over to make a non-keeper save before it could cross the goal line.
Knowing they may need another goal or two, the Braves went to work on the offensive end.
Olentangy made it 2-0 when Olivia Heskett slid a shot past Patton from a tight angle in transition. Beinecke, who was fouled in the box, made it 3-0 not long after that, depositing the ensuing penalty kick into the back of the net.
The Bears smoothed out the scoring summary with about a minute to play when Senna Mieth scored off a feed from Cecilla Dapino.
Scott had four saves in the win while Patton finished with five for Upper Arlington.
Next up, Olentangy will host Saturday’s regional championship against Bishop Watterson, which outlasted Pickerington North in a shootout to advance. The action is set to start at noon.