When Liberty faced Olentangy earlier in the year and avenged their 2014 Regional Semifinal loss by a score of 4-1, very few imagined there would be a rematch in the OHSAA Playoffs, let alone in the Regional Championship with an opportunity to advance to the State Tournament Final 4.
But the All-Olentangy Division I Regional Championship between #6 Olentangy Liberty and #11 Olentangy became reality when both teams won their Regional Semifinal on Tuesday. The winner would advance the furthest in the state tournament for any OLSD Girls High School program, and retain bragging rights for another year.
Despite the noon start, both schools had spirited supporters sections, and the tone was set early for a historic battle of two outstanding teams, featuring many club teammates and friends (on any other day).
At the final whistle, Liberty had prevailed and delivered a 1-0 win to launch the Pattys into the Division I State Semifinals. And the main story of the day was the defense. Liberty’s Defensive unit, which includes Junior Goalkeeper Emma Campbell, Defenders Senior Captain Emma Waters, Junior Emma Koshan, Junior Abby Summers, and Sophomore Sydney Weaver, and supported by Center Midfielder Sophomore Olivia Sensky and Senior Captain Hailey Pickelheimer neutralized the Braves attack and turned away every scoring opportunity. The Braves also delivered a strong defensive effort, man-marking and double teaming Liberty’s key attackers in an attempt to slow down a Liberty attack that had scored 10 goals in the their first four playoff games.
The game began with Olentangy pressing the attack, earning 3 corners in the first seven minutes, but none would be converted. Liberty would then settle down and return to the possession style of play that had gotten them to this point. Even with good ball movement and possession, the Braves defense stood strong and in the first 34 minutes the Pattys were not able to produce any dangerous scoring opportunities. During that time, however, Olentangy created some counter attack chances and both Waters and Summers prevented 1v1 opportunities on goal.
However, everything would change in the 34th minute, when Senior Captain Emma Waters drove the ball 40 yards from the back line to Junior Forward Kenzie Coyne, who flicked the ball on toward the Olentangy goal. As the Braves defender tried to clear the ball in front of the on-rushing Coyne (and with their goalkeeper also coming out to help clear the ball), the clearance deflected off Coyne, fell to the feet of Junior Sarina Dirrig, who looked up, saw the Goalkeeper off her line and sent a 37 yard blast over everyone and into the back of the net for what would stand as the game winner. The goal was Dirrig’s 20th of the season and was unassisted. The 1-0 score would stand at half.
In the second half, the Pattys came out determined not to have another early lapse and delivered. The Patriots had the better of possession in the second half, but when the Braves attacked they were stopped at every turn, including outstanding stops by Olivia Sensky’s face on more than one occasion. Junior Goalkeeper Emma Campbell turned in her most consistent and impressive performance of the year including a couple key stops coming off her line to smother chances, and a huge save in the 69th minute off a corner kick that looked certain to find the goal. Campbell had five saves on the day, which does not tell the whole story of her command and composure between the pipes today.
This was also the first match of the year where a Liberty opponent registered more corners (10 to 5), but Liberty outshot Olentangy (10 to 6) with 3 and 4 shots on goal, respectively. Olentangy was whistled for 12 fouls to Liberty’s 5, and the Braves were caught offside twice.
The Pattys’ Nation is incredibly proud of this amazing accomplishment in advancing to the Final Four, but there is still work to be done.
Next up for Liberty is a Tuesday, 7:00PM State Semifinal match at Centerville’s Legacy Field at Centerville Alumni Stadium, which is not located on the High School Campus. The address is 192 West Franklin Street, Centerville, OH 45459. An alternate address is 99 Virginia Avenue, Centerville, OH 45459. It is behind Magsig Middle School. We will face Loveland HS, who defeated Springboro.
Drop everything, round up your family, friends and neighbors, and we will see you all in Centerville on Tuesday!!!!