Hilliard Davidson High School girls soccer coach Joe Divida noticed a change in his team's play after scoring the opening goal against Worthington Kilbourne in a Division I district final Oct. 26 at Canal Winchester.
The goal by forward Ashley Blake with 14 minutes, 58 seconds left in the first half sparked the third-seeded Wildcats to a 3-0 win over the 14th-seeded Wolves for their second consecutive district title.
Davidson was 14-3-2 before playing Watterson in a regional semifinal Oct. 29 at Dublin Jerome, with the winner facing playing Marysville or Pickerington North in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2. The Wildcats lost to Pickerington North 4-3 on Oct. 5 but defeated Marys-ville 4-2 on Oct. 8 in an OCC-Central Division game.
The regional champion will play Cincinnati Loveland, Cincinnati St. Ursula Academy, Cincinnati Walnut Hills or Mason in a state semifinal Tuesday, Nov. 5, at a site to be determined. The state final is Nov. 8 at Crew Stadium.
"That was a huge goal because it settled us down and, when you're the favorite, you need to score first," said Divida, whose team lost to Jerome 2-0 in a regional semifinal last year. "Once that went in, we started to play better. I think it reminded us that we were the favorites and we had done this last year. We had the experience of winning last year and playing in the regional."
Blake scored by deflecting a bouncing ball in the box off her right shin and off the right post.
"It was just a lucky thing, but it did give us a momentum boost," said Blake, who also scored the final goal off of a rebound she tapped in with 9:41 left in the second half. "We missed some other opportunities, but both of mine were just lucky and being in the right spot at the right time."
Midfielder Erin Duffy scored Davidson's second goal with 21:01 left and goalkeeper Rachel Teater had two saves to record the Wildcats' 11th shutout of the season.
"We were a little skittish before we got that first goal, but we settled down and played pretty well in the second 20 (minutes) of the first half," Divida said. "But then halftime killed that momentum and it took us a while to get back into (form) after halftime. But when we're playing our game and being aggressive, the girls are good at finding each other and creating some buildup.
"We don't play well throughout the field if we're timid. It's important for us to be in control, take control of the game and get (the opponent) on their heels a bit."
The Wildcats defeated 19th-seeded Olentangy 2-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 22 at home as Teater had two saves and Duffy and Blake both scored.
Seeded sixth, the boys team lost to fifth-seeded New Albany 2-1 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 23 to finish 12-4-2.
Midfielder Ryan Lang scored for the Wildcats and goalie Philip Ferguson had four saves.
Bradley boys win first district title
Seeded fourth, the Bradley boys team beat fifth-seeded New Albany 2-1 in a Division I district final Oct. 26 at Westerville South to capture the first district title in the program's five-year history.
"They earned it," coach Pat Billman said of his players. "That's what we've been preaching since July. We finished it off. We're a young school -- five years -- but our third district championship game and we were 0-for-2. The third time apparently was the charm."
The Jaguars were 12-1-6 before playing defending state champion Olentangy Liberty in a regional semifinal Oct. 30 at Gahanna. The winner plays Canal Winchester or Dublin Coffman in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2, at Jerome.
Bradley beat Canal Winchester 1-0 on Sept. 17 in an OCC-Cardinal game, handing the Indians their only loss during the regular season, and defeated Coffman 2-1 on Aug. 29.
The regional champion faces Beavercreek, Cincinnati Turpin, Mason or West Chester Lakota West in a state semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 6, at a site to be determined. The state final is Nov. 9 at Crew Stadium.
"We just have to look forward now," Billman said. "We're happy to go to the regional semifinals and represent this extremely tough district. It's like a boxing match every single game."
Against New Albany, forward Brady Whittekind scored 90 seconds into the game, midfielder Robert Castillo scored what proved to be the winning goal with 28:27 remaining and goalie Jorge Morales had two saves.
"We hit them in the mouth early and that's what we wanted to do," Billman said. "We let them back in the game a little bit, but we hung on and that's what it takes."
New Albany scored with 24:12 left.
"Somebody has to have a little luck, and we had a little luck in the second half," Billman said. "... It was a gutty effort from my guys. We stuck to our game plan in the first half. We just wanted to have high pressure and we were able to do that."
The Jaguars defeated 17th-seeded Jerome 2-1 in a district semifinal Oct. 22 at home as midfielder Riley Uhrin and Castillo both scored and Morales had five saves.
Seeded 10th, the girls soccer team lost to fourth-seeded Liberty 1-0 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 22.
Goalie Shelby Halworth had two saves for the Jaguars, who finished 10-5-3.
Darby girls fall in district semifinal
Seeded 25th, the Darby girls team lost to second-seeded Pickerington North 5-1 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 22.
Midfielder Caitlin McCarthy scored for the Panthers, who finished 4-12-3.