By Michael Rich
If revenge is a dish best served cold, then Olentangy Liberty fit the bill perfectly in a 4-1 victory on a chilly night at Olentangy in non-league girls soccer action Thursday night.
The Patriots got some measure of revenge from last season’s 1-0 loss to the Braves in an OHSAA regional semifinal game that ended their historic season.
“We really wanted this tonight,” Liberty midfielder Sarina Dirrig said. “(Liberty) and Olentangy is always a good game and there’s always lots of motivation for this game, but we had a (historical) season last year and they ended that.”
“We had a lot of desire and a lot of urgency and we wanted to win this game (because of last season),” Patriots coach Kristen McMahon said. “We came out and we did that.”
Dirrig scored twice and Hayley Pickelheimer and Natalie Amodeo added a goal each for Liberty (6-4-1).
Pickelheimer broke a scoreless tie about eight minutes into the second half thanks to a lead pass from Sydney Weaver.
“That was awesome,” McMahon said. “She’s a senior, so I know that meant a lot to her after last year. I’m glad that she could be the one to get the goals started for us.”
Dirrig scored Liberty’s second goal about eight minutes later after getting passed open by Jordan Fike.
“I think we were able to use the width and find our outsides – get to the end and slot the ball back (to the middle),” McMahon said. “We found some girls that were open.”
Dirrig extended the lead to 3-1 with about six minutes left on another assist by Fike. It’s a duo that has worked all season for Liberty. Dirrig leads the team with 10 goals and Fike leads the Patriots with 10 assists.
“(Dirrig) has great vision of the field and she’s really our go-to player right now,” McMahon said. “We want to have the ball at her feet so she can distribute, and she’s done a wonderful job.”
Olentangy has not given up goals easily this season. Pickelheimer’s goal was the first since Sept. 8 when the Braves tied their other district-rival, Olentangy Orange, 1-1 – a string of five games.
They had only given up five goals all season coming into the game, which included allowing three goals in the second game of the season against Dublin Jerome Aug. 25.
Olentangy coach Megan Kirsten said the onslaught of goals by Liberty was because of a change in strategy after her team went down 2-0.
“We were down two goals, so we took the aggressive approach and made some changes,” she said. “That’s what happens when you make changes to be more offensive. It’s a rival team that the girls want to (beat), so the girls wanted to go for it. So we said, ‘all right, let’s go for it.’”
At the same time, Olentangy (6-4-2) has had a hard time scoring goals. Sarah Markel’s goal with about 14 minutes left in the game was just the 10th goal all season in 12 games.
The win over Olentangy is Liberty’s first non-league win this season, despite being undefeated in the OCC-Central.
Both teams return to league play Tuesday. Liberty hosts Dublin Coffman while Olentangy travels to Mount Vernon.
Also: Hilliard Darby 4, Hayes 1.
Nathan Lippincott scored off a feed from Curtis Herzog midway through the second half as Hayes and host Pickerington Central played to a 1-1 draw Thursday in Pickerington.
Ian Alger finished with four saves in the Pacer goal.
Also: Olentangy 2, Marysville 1; Dublin Jerome 2, Liberty 0.
Liberty bumped its record to a stellar 13-1 Thursday, handling visiting Marysville in three sets.
The Patriots won the first 25-20 before sealing the deal with wins of 25-23 and 25-16.
Lauren Hofer led the way with a team-best 13 digs to go with six kills. Other standouts included Shelby Stewart, who finished with six kills and another six blocks; and Maddie Fogg, who had 30 assists in the win.
Olentangy 3, Franklin Heights 0
The Braves picked up another OCC-Capital Division win Thursday, improving to 12-4 overall and 8-2 in league play with a 25-7, 25-18, 25-10 win over host Franklin Heights.
Lauren Judge boosted the Braves with 10 kills and 3.5 blocks. Nhu Do also had 10 kills while Zoe Miller finished with 19 digs in the win.
Olentangy returns to action Saturday when it hosts Liberty in the annual Volley for the Cure contest at 11 a.m. A 50-50 raffle and silent auction will accompany the game, with loads of Ohio State, Olentangy and Liberty items up for grabs. Proceeds will support the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Also: Worthington Kilbourne 3, Big Walnut 1.
Columbus Academy 5, Liberty 1.
Gazette Sports Editor Ben Stroup contributed to this report.