As if being a part of the same school district wasn’t enough, the Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy girls soccer teams keep finding ways to add fuel to the fire.
Madison Rapier scored twice and assisted on the other goal in the Patriots’ 3-0 win to capture their third straight Division I district championship and snap Olentangy’s string at two.
“It’s a rush every time,” Rapier said about the district title. “I’m always extremely excited every single time … it’s just amazing.”
It has become a yearly tradition for the two programs. Both come into the tournament powerhouses and inevitably meet before one breaks the other’s heart.
Olentangy upset Liberty in the regional semifinals of the 2014 tournament and Liberty returned the favor and knocked Olentangy out of the 2015 tournament.
Add to it that both are now in the same league – the OCC-Buckeye – which was decided by Olentangy’s 3-0 win in Lewis Center Oct. 13 to further the rivalry … as if it needed it.
“The tables are turned,” Patriots coach Kristen McMahon said with a laugh. “It’s a great rivalry in the conference … in the postseason. But, (this time) we came out on top.”
“When we lost to them (earlier this year), we stayed positive and we got up and kept working,” Rapier said. “I wanted this so bad for my team and it came together.”
Rapier announced herself with her performance Saturday night at Olentangy Orange High School in Lewis Center.
“Honestly, I was just thinking that this is all for my team,” she said. “We’ve been working for this the whole season.”
The junior forward broke the scoring seal with a goal off an Abby Summers feed to give Liberty (15-3-1) a 1-0 lead with 17:09 left in the first half.
“(Rapier is) a girl that’s worked herself through our program,” McMahon said. “We had really high hopes for this varsity season. I’ve been really impressed with what she can bring.”
The back-breaker came on, coincidentally, a breakout. Rapier got by the defense and evaded the goalie, then dropped to Abby Townsend, who touched it in to give the Patriots a 2-0 lead with 23:59 remaining in the game.
“(Rapier) was the reason I scored – honestly, that was just a tap-in,” Townsend said. “Lately, she’s been playing really well and (Saturday night) was her best game.”
Mara Fullmer fed Rapier through to cap the scoring with 17:37 remaining.
Olentangy seemed to wake up after the first goal, putting pressure on the Liberty defense.
“They worked hard and continued to fight and I’m proud of them,” Olentangy coach Megan Kirsten said. “I think as soon as that second goal went in, we had 10 seniors that started to see flashes that the season could be over and emotionally, that takes a toll on players.”
But, quality scoring chances were hard to find and Liberty goalie Emma Campbell stopped four shots before giving way to Grace Poncsak, who had one save in the final 15 minutes of play.
Emma Spinner had three saves for Olentangy (12-3-4).
“They came out strong and we knew it was going to be tough,” Kirsten said. “We’ll see them again next year.”
Liberty turns its attention to the regional semifinals against Gahanna Lincoln Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Dublin Jerome High School.
Big Walnut 3, Hartley 0
Good things come to those who wait.
No truer words have been said – especially in the case of the Big Walnut girls soccer team.
The Golden Eagles rode goals by sophomores Grace Bodker and Adelee Gartner and senior Maddie Aleshire to a 3-0 victory over Bishop Hartley to capture the Division II district title Saturday afternoon at Anderson Field in Grandview Heights.
Fourth-year coach Drew Pitzer was emotional after his team won its first district title in school history, which came a year after the team reached the round for the first time.
“It’s an emotional day,” Pitzer said. “These kids have been working tirelessly to build this program to where it is. This wasn’t even a dream (when I became the coach).”
Bodker pounded in the first goal – a heat-seeker to the top left to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute.
“I’ve never seen her hit a ball like that,” Pitzer said. “There was anger behind that kick. It pierced that net and I thought it was going through it. I mean, she just hit with everything she had in that little body of hers … I don’t know if she’ll ever hit a ball that hard again in her life.”
After a couple of minutes were added on to the clock in the second half, Gartner took a centering pass from freshman Avery Schone and buried it to push the BW (10-6-3) lead to 2-0 with 28:55 remaining in the game.
“Avery Schone was fantastic – she made a lot of the plays that we just haven’t had a player make in the past,” Pitzer said. “Adelee Gartner is sick – she can’t breathe – and she’s out there just busting her tail. She got rewarded with a well-deserved goal.”
Aleshire finished out the scoring when she rebounded Alexis Schone’s shot off the right post and beat the goalie with 23:17 left.
It was a big moment for Aleshire. She battled her way back this season from ACL surgery that forced her to miss the Eagles first trip to the district title game.
“I’m really excited because I had my ACL surgery last year, so I don’t really remember it,” Aleshire said. “I had three knee surgeries last year and it was really hard. One of the things that kept me going was the team itself and the coaches. It’s just a great feeling.”
Third-seeded BW controlled the action from the beginning, keeping the ball away from the Hawks.
“Not only did they win that game, but they knew they were the better team from the beginning to the end … they fought hard,” Pitzer said.
Meghan Dempsey stopped four shots in goal for fifth-seeded Hartley (13-6-1), which beat the Eagles 1-0 Oct. 11 in Sunbury.
“We studied and studied and studied that film … we studied film (Saturday),” Pitzer said. “We were in at noon at the school watching film before this game. That’s the dedication that this team has … it’s something that this team wanted to do. They wanted to be here, they wanted to watch film … they wanted to win this game.”
BW faces Archbishop Alter in the regional semifinal Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Wayne High School in Huber Heights.
Thirteenth-seeded Orange battled back from a 3-1 halftime deficit, but second-seeded Dublin Coffman held on by the narrowest of margins to nab a 4-3 win in a Division I district championship game Saturday in Westerville.
Sam Sarfo, Grant Simon and Brian Juttner had the Pioneer goals while Joey Brooks was credited with an assist in the setback.
Nick Cutler finished with one save in the Orange goal.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.