The Hilliard Davidson High School girls soccer team was able to overwhelm or wear down most of its opponents this season by staying on the attack for the majority of a game.
That trend didn't continue in a Division I regional semifinal Nov. 1 at Gahanna, as the Wildcats struggled to maintain possession and apply offensive pressure for long stretches on the way to a 2-0 loss to Dublin Jerome.
"We've stayed on the attack throughout almost every other game we've played, but Dublin Jerome put us in a very unusual situation where we spent most of the time chasing the ball and defending," coach Joe Divida said. "We played scared and unsure and we weren't nearly as aggressive as we wanted to be. We played well defensively, but we only had a quarter of the scoring opportunities that we usually have."
Kaitlin Miller scored off a header to give the Celtics a 1-0 lead at halftime and Makenzie Costner scored in the second half on a penalty kick.
Junior goalkeeper Rachel Teater had 11 saves for Davidson, which finished 17-3 overall. Kelsey Larson had to make only three saves for the Celtics.
"It's easier to attack than defend and we spent the whole first half chasing the ball around to the point where our legs were tired in the second half," Divida said. "I didn't agree with the penalty kick call, but like I told the girls, the team that's the aggressor usually gets those type of calls, and Dublin Jerome was the aggressor throughout the game. That second goal was the killer because we were finally starting to apply some pressure and get some good opportunities at that point."
The loss ended a season in which Davidson rewrote its record book.
Not only did the Wildcats capture their first district championship since 2008, but they set their season record for wins in a season and set their record for most goals scored in a season with 93.
Senior midfielder Lauren Bates set the program record for goals in a season with 25 and junior forward Ashley Blake scored 20. The previous record was 18 goals, set last season by 2012 graduate Courtney Hall.
"We shattered our record book and won a district championship, so I'd say this was a great year overall," Divida said.
Davidson lost to Dublin Coffman 2-0 on Aug. 28 en route to going 6-1 in the OCC-Central Division and placing second, behind Coffman (6-0-1) and ahead of Olentangy Liberty (5-2), Thomas Worthington (3-3-1), Marysville (2-2-3), Upper Arlington (2-4-1), Central Crossing (0-6-1) and Westland (0-6-1).
Seeded fourth, the Wildcats opened the district tournament Oct. 18 with a 13-0 win over Teays Valley in the second round after having a first-round bye. They then defeated Thomas Worthington 4-1 in a district semifinal Oct. 23 and beat fifth-seeded Watterson 2-1 in a district final Oct. 27 before losing to Jerome.
"With the style we played, we were able to get ahead by multiple goals early and avoid getting upset throughout the entire season," Divida said. "The girls have a lot to be proud of."
Davidson loses two senior starters in Bates and defender Jenna Sulc.
Bates, who had six assists to go with her record goal total, was named first-team all-district and all-league.
In addition to Blake and Teater, the Wildcats expect to return their three starting forwards in juniors Blake and Lea Edler and freshman Devon McClellan, three starting defenders in juniors Rachel Baum and Chelsea Miller and sophomore Sydney Wright and two starting midfielders in junior Alaina Lundregan and sophomore Erin Duffy.
Blake was named second-team all-district and first-team all-league and Duffy, Edler and Wright were second-team all-league. Miller (special mention) and Lundregan (honorable mention) also earned all-league honors.
"We'll miss our seniors, but we should be in great shape next year with who we have returning," Divida said.