On a chilly Saturday night at Dublin Jerome, the #8 seed Olentangy Liberty Patriots Girls Soccer team qualified for their 5th straight District Championship and chance to bring home a 4th consecutive district crown vs. district rival Olentangy Orange. The Pioneers, whose roster is filled with both friends and club teammates, defeated Liberty earlier in the season by overcoming a 1-0 deficit with 2 goals in the final 7 minutes to secure a 2-1 win at Patriots Stadium. The win also fueled OOHS’ drive to the Conference Championship, but the re-match was a great opportunity to avenge the loss and claim the more coveted District Championship.
A favorite quote from the Liberty staff is “act like you’ve been there before” and on this night the Pattys did just that, delivering a convincing 3-1 win.
Liberty opened the scoring in the 14th minute when a Lyndsey Kijowksi pressure on the Orange attacker resulted in her stuffing an attempted pass. The redirect was flicked on by Abby Townsend down the left flank, where she spun, collected the ball, blew by the Orange defender and finished a 1v1 to the far corner side netting. Kijowski was credited with an assist on the goal.
The score moved to 2-0 in th 22nd minute and was sparked when Brooke Severance intercepted a loose ball in the middle third, took the space in front of her and then played a spectacular through ball that slipped behind the OOHS outside back to an onrushing Abby Jones. Jones cross was deflected by the goalkeeper where the Pattys won the scramble for the second ball, with Townsend tapping the ball back to Gia Gaetano who buried the chance.
For the next 44 minutes a scoreless battle ensued, with possession being evenly split. In the 66th minute Laura Bichsel would put the match out of reach when Elise Koshan made an outstanding run off the ball to receive a pass from Abby Jones in the central midfield, and then threaded a pass to Bichsel who was on a full sprint down the left flank. Bichsel calmly collected the ball with two touches on the run and unleashed a left footed blast past the diving Orange goalkeeper to score inside the far post.
A late goal by Orange on a Penalty Kick that was awarded for a soft challenge was the only blemish on the scoreboard, where the Liberty Defense once again stood strong. Goalkeeper Riley Cartwright recorded 7 saves.
The 3-1 victory raises the Patriots to 11-5-3 on the season, and a remarkable 8-1-0 record since a mid-season 5-0 defeat by Pickerington North, after which the Pattys made a decision as a unit to change their mindset to a “we” mentality, which has paid off on several levels.
On Tuesday at 7:00PM, Liberty faces a rematch with a talented and tenacious Hilliard Darby squad at Westerville Central in the Regional Semifinal/Sweet 16. Check out the Division I Regional/State bracket HERE!
We hope to see you at Westerville Central on Tuesday and GO PATTYS!