The Olentangy girls soccer team aced just about every test it’s faced this fall.
Tuesday’s might have been its stiffest yet, but the result was the same as the Braves scored four times in the second half to pull away for a 4-1 Division I state semifinal win over Centerville at Springfield High School.
Olentangy (18-2-2), which has been stellar all season long, entered the showdown with more answers than questions.
How do you think the Braves got to the final four in the first place? They play hard. They play fast. They know what they are and they’re really, really good at what they do.
One question, though, was how would they play when behind? Olentangy hasn’t trailed much this season … and the Elks (19-2-1) aren’t a group you want to play from behind against. Centerville finished the regular season with 13 shutouts and outscored its postseason opponents 18-2 heading into Tuesday night.
None of that mattered for the Braves, though.
After the Elks took a 1-0 lead on an Izzy Laidly goal with just over 26 minutes left in the first half, the Braves went to work.
At first, they peppered the Centerville goal with shots from distance — shots Allison Colopy was able to keep out of the back of the net with solid saves.
The Elks maintained their slim lead until halftime, but it didn’t last long after that. The Braves’ pressure finally paid off early in the second half as Rachel Austin poked a centering pass from Olivia Heskett past a diving Colopy to even things at one with 36 minutes to play.
Olentangy took the lead for good about 10 minutes later. Carly Ross collected a pass from Kylee Beinecke and sent a shot toward goal, earning a corner when an Elk defender deflected it out of bounds.
The ensuing set piece didn’t look like it was going to result in much, either … until it landed at the feet of Austin. The senior forward took care of the rest, turning what started as a failed Centerville clearing attempt into what proved to be the game-winning goal with 26 minutes to play.
The Braves poured it on from there. Beinecke drew a foul just outside the box, setting up a free kick with 12 minutes to play. Lexi White took it, firing a rocket Colopy got a piece of, but Heskett punched in the rebound to all but seal the deal.
White put the finishing touches on the win a minute later, smoothing out the scoring summary with a goal of her own.
With the win, Olentangy advances to Friday’s state championship to take on Strongsville, which beat Whitehouse Anthony Wayne 4-1 in Tuesday’s other semi. Action is set to start at 7 p.m. at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus.