Kylee Beinecke scored midway through the first half and the defense, anchored by keeper Katie Scott, took care of the rest as the Olentangy girls soccer team punched its first-ever ticket to a state semifinal over the weekend, blanking visiting Watterson 1-0 in Saturday’s Division I regional championship in Lewis Center.
After the two spent the first 20-plus minutes primarily in the middle of the field, trading chances from deep here and there, the Braves broke through thanks to a stellar individual play by Beinecke, who maneuvered around a pair of Eagle defenders, dibbled into space, stepped up and drilled a rocket over the head of Watterson keeper Annie McGraw to give her team a 1-0 lead with 13:36 left until halftime.
The lead, albeit slim, was rarely in question the rest of the way. The Olentangy back line kept the Watterson forwards in front of them and, when the Eagles did find enough space to get off a decent look, Scott was in perfect position every time.
The closest Watterson came to an equalizer came with less than 20 minutes to play, when Erin Connors beat her defender down the left sideline and got a point-blank shot off from a bit of an angle. Scott handled it cleanly, though, making a tough play look relatively easy.
The senior class, which includes Beinecke and Scott — two of the team’s co-captains (forward Rachel Austin and midfielder Carly Ross are the others) — has been close to nabbing a regional title for years.
Olentangy lost in a district final in 2017, when this year’s seniors were freshmen, and lost a round later — in a regional semifinal — the following fall.
Saturday, though, was their time.
“This senior class has been playing together for at least three to four years,” Olentangy coach Earl Devanny said. “They’re familiar with each others’ skills and are all good friends. They’re special in how hard they compete in practices as well as games, and have been helpful to the underclassmen, aiding the development of team dynamics.”
Next up, Olentangy (17-2-2) will take on Centerville (21-1-1) in today’s state semifinal at Springfield High School. Devanny said there’s no secret sauce to success … the Braves will just have to keep doing what they’ve been doing all year.
“We will have to play quickly and aggressively in all phases of the game,” he said.
First kick is set for 7 p.m.
Chloe Dawson finished 27th overall to earn her third All-Ohio citation and lead the Buckeye Valley girls cross country team to a 17th-place performance in the Division II state championship race Saturday afternoon at Fortress Obetz.
Dawson crossed the line in 19:27.
Other Baron contributors included Ashley Beatty (93rd in 20:38.7), Bailey Kreft (109th in 21:02.4), Jia Radloff (136th 21:46.3), Macayla Krantz (167th in 32:41.9) and Chloe Maynard (174th in 25:05.3).
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary won the team title with a score of 96 while Oakwood’s Grace Hartman won top individuals honors with an effort of 18:04.1.
In the Division I boys’ race, Olentangy Orange’s Jake Ethridge finished 55th in 16:27.3.
Olentangy Orange saw its stellar season come to a close Saturday, dropping the Division I regional championship in four sets to Watterson.
The Pioneers started well, taking the first set 25-17, but the Eagles reeled off three straight to seal the deal. They won the second 26-24 to even things up before taking the third and fourth by respective margins of 25-23 and 25-21.
Sydney Taylor led Watterson with 16 kills and 27 digs.
London Davis had a game-high 19 kills for Orange. Other Pioneer standouts included Addie Evans, who had a game-best 30 digs; and Hanna Borer, who chipped in 36 assists.