Sarina Dirrig and Abby Jones got the 2016 season started right for the Olentangy Liberty girls soccer team, accounting for a pair of goals in a 2-0 win over Thomas Worthington Saturday night in Powell.
Dirrig was kept at bay for much of the first half until Sophie Fallieras fed her a pass from the right side. Dirrig sent it high to the right off the post to put Liberty on top with just under 14 minutes left in the first half.
“(Dirrig) draws people … and she’s able to find openings,” Patriots coach Kristen McMahon said. “Sophie Fallieras gave her a great ball and she found an opening. It looked like it was going over, but it just dropped.”
Liberty had its opportunities throughout, peppering 13 shots, including nine on goal. The Patriots (1-0) had six corner kick opportunities in the second half (seven overall), but couldn’t find the net.
“We had three or four chances in the first half that we didn’t put in and, if we don’t put those chances away, they don’t come again,” McMahon said.
It was eerily similar to last year’s district final when the Patriots built a 2-0 lead before Thomas came back in the second half to tie it and send it to overtime. Olivia Sensky’s goal in overtime gave Liberty its second district title in as many years.
“We’ve been talking about how last year was great, but this is a different team and we know we have to work extremely hard to get where we want this year,” McMahon said. “But we started with a rematch from the district final last year.”
With just under 14 minutes remaining, Jones bent in a kick from the right corner to net a critical second goal for Liberty.
“She’s such a hard worker — always brings so much to our program and our game,” McMahon said. “That (goal) definitely gave us the edge.”
The Patriots used solid defense all night highlighted by a Sydney Weaver save off of a Cardinal corner kick chance by Gillian Holman. Weaver stepped in front of Breanne Beatty’s header off of a corner kick with just over a minute left in the first half.
Emma Campbell had three saves in the first half for the Patriots and Grace Poncsak, new to the Patriots after transferring from Orange, stopped one shot in the second half to preserve the shutout.
Michayla Gussler stopped five shots in relief of Kaylan Schaffranek, who stopped two shots for the Cardinals (0-1) in the first half.
Liberty has a chip on its shoulder after a 3-1 loss to Loveland in its first state final appearance in school history. The Patriots lost only four seniors off that squad, but McMahon said that every team is different.
“I think it’s important that these girls know what happened last year, but I think they also have a different goal in mind,” she said. “Not only do they want to get where they were last year, but they want to get further.”
Liberty is back at it Tuesday night, hosting Hilliard Bradley in non-league play at 7:15 p.m.
Also: Marysville 1, Hayes 1.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.