By Michael Rich
Coach Bradd Smiley knew it would be an uphill battle for his young Delaware Hayes girls soccer team. He felt Upper Arlington’s seeding (21) didn’t reflect its talent and experience.
The 25th-seeded Pacers kept it close, but ultimately a first-half goal off the foot of Anna Piscopo was all the Golden Bears needed as they went on to notch a 2-0 win in the first round of the district tournament Tuesday night at Marv Moorehead Stadium.
“(Upper Arlington) capitalized on our mistakes,” Smiley said. “Whoever was going to capitalize on mistakes, was going to win the game, and they capitalized on two of our mistakes. Hats off to them.”
The Golden Bears (7-5-5) kicked it around in front of the Hayes goal early in the opening half, but couldn’t get a shot off. The ball ended up in front and Piscopo, though, who finally fired one and found the back corner of the net with 28:26 left in the half.
It was the only goal Pacers goalie Ahdrin Bordner allowed in the half, fighting off six other shot opportunities, which included a diving stop on a Molly Morgan shot with 7:55 left in the period.
Morgan led the Bears with four shots, but was unable to get one past Bordner, who finished with nine saves.
“I thought the defense played extremely well,” Smiley said.
Hannah Dible added the insurance goal late in the second half for Upper Arlington.
The Pacers couldn’t put a shot on goal, though they had a couple of opportunities sail wide.
“I thought we had (Upper Arlington) frazzled a little bit, but when we got down low, we couldn’t execute,” Smiley said. “We just weren’t able to get anything (in the goal).”
Hayes (6-8-2) came in having gone 5-2-2 in its last nine to finish the season strong after a six-game losing streak early. The Pacers lose only one senior, defender Helen Thomson.
Smiley viewed the game as a measuring stick for his team and the result proved to him that the Pacers could compete with the area’s best teams. They’ll have to wait for next season to see if they can take the next step.
“We’re young and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead for us,” he said. “I’m very, very excited for these (girls). We needed to see what we could do against the best … and regardless of what their record is, I think they’re one of the best around. I think we gave them everything we had. (We’ve) got some momentum going into next year. We’ll be a team to be reckoned with next year.”
Upper Arlington advances to the second round and will travel to Hilliard Bradley, the district’s 10 seed, Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Olentangy handled business in its postseason opener, hammering visiting Walnut Ridge 25-0, 25-4, 25-1 during Tuesday’s Division I sectional semifinal in Lewis Center.
Sophie Fritz led the way with 10 aces and 32 assists while Lauren Judge added nine kills and Nhu Do finished with seven.
With the win, the Braves advance to Thursday’s sectional final against visiting Westland.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.