Based on the way different stretches of the game played out, it’s crazy to think Tuesday’s Division I district semifinal between familiar foes Olentangy and Olentangy Berlin was decided in a shootout.
Knotted 2-2 after a pair of halves and two 15 minute sudden death overtime periods, though, that’s exactly what it took as the host and top-seeded Braves slipped past the 12th-seeded Bears 4-3 in the shootout to advance to Saturday’s district championship.
The Bears controlled things for much of the first half. Mike Lapid nearly broke the scoring seal when he collected the ball in the corner, took a few dribbles toward the middle of the field and hit a high rocket that beat Braves’ keeper Liam McClen, but hit off the crossbar.
Berlin kept the pressure on, though, and it paid off when Ryko Bordurov collected a bouncing ball in the box and punched it in for a 1-0 lead with 19:30 left in the first half.
It stayed that way until the break, too, as the Bears’ back line — guys like Chris DeBlock, Lincoln Ulrich, Aidan Ackermann and Roman Elizaga made life difficult for the Olentangy forwards.
The Braves controlled the ball much better in the second half, going over the back line instead of trying to get through it on the way to a pair of goals to take a 2-1 lead heading into the game’s late stages.
Brady Smith evened things up with a tight-angle shot from in close, finishing a pass from Sawyer Wilbanks with 34:40 left in the half before Scott Switz scored the go-ahead tally off a free kick sent into the box from Ean Encarnacion with 19:03 left in regulation.
The Bears answered in a hurry, getting back to even less than two minutes later when Lapid settled the ball in the middle of the field, took a few dribbles to create space, turned and launched a laser that curled away from McClen and found a home in the corner of the net, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
The win sets up a district championship against another of Olentangy’s familiar foes: rival Olentangy Liberty.
The fourth-seeded Patriots edged visiting and 14th-seeded Olentangy Orange 1-0 Tuesday in Powell thanks to a second-half goal from Chris Howski.