Well, this feels familiar.
The Olentangy girls soccer team advanced to its second straight regional championship Tuesday night, edging 10th-ranked Pickerington North 1-0 in a Division I regional semifinal at Gahanna Lincoln.
After failing to get much of anything on net through the first 30-plus minutes of action, the Braves’ Ireland Fallona found the back of it to give her team a 1-0 lead with 5:17 left in the first half.
The Panthers (14-2-4) and keeper Morgan Conklin failed to clear a bouncing ball in the box and Fallona found herself in the right place at the right time, weaving through traffic before bumping the ball into a relatively wide-open net to give the Braves (14-5-1) an edge they never relinquished.
The scrum just in front of the goal was reminiscent of the rest of the game, which featured a flurry of dangerous second-half chances by both teams.
North’s Cameron Shedenhelm got the first of them, collecting the ball near midfield before using her speed to beat the Olentangy back line and fire a shot from just inside the box. Braves goalie Kelsey Hill was up for the challenge, though, making a tough play look easy by calmly saving the low liner.
Makenzie Kelly got in on the act minutes later, taking a close-range shot from the left side of the goal, but Hill redirected it wide to preserve the slim 1-0 lead.
The Panthers headed the ensuing corner kick over the crossbar and the Braves regrouped with 18 minutes to go.
The win avenged a 3-0 loss Olentangy suffered at the hand of Pickerington North back in September. That loss seemed to light a fire under the Braves, who have won nine of their last 10 since the setback.
After winning their first district title in school history last season, Olentangy, with back-to-back league and district titles under its belt, will look to grab its first regional crown in Saturday’s final.
Olentangy will play district-rival Liberty, a 3-1 winner over Upper Arlington in Wednesday’s other semi, in the regional championship at Westerville Central. The Braves beat the Patriots 1-0 in last fall’s regional semifinal before falling to state runner-up Dublin Coffman in the final. Liberty won this year’s regular-season showdown 4-1.