The seventh-seeded Hilliard Darby High School girls soccer team scored two goals in the final 13 minutes to beat third-seeded Gahanna 3-2 in a Division I district final Oct. 28 at Westerville North.

Abbey Spencer scored the winning goal with 2:19 left.

“I just kept after the ball because (Gahanna goalkeeper Kaylee Hensley) didn’t hang on to it,” Spencer said. “I was right there and this is just amazing.”

The Panthers, who improved to 12-3-3 and advanced to play Olentangy Liberty in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Westerville Central, won their first district title. The first came in their inaugural season in 1997.

“These girls never give up,” said Darby coach Dan Brady, who was celebrating his birthday.

“When Aaliyah (Brletic) tied it up (at 2 with 12:48 left), it was a big momentum shift and our girls just got more aggressive. This is the best birthday gift ever. This is the third year in a row we’ve been to the final, and it’s just great to finally win a title.”

The game was tied at 1 at halftime. Gahanna, which finished 12-2-4, took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Emily Beach with 35:51 left before Brletic scored off a crossing pass from Brynn Miller to tie the score.

Pickerington North 2, Canal Winchester 1

North’s comeback win in a Division I district final Oct. 28 featured a goal from the top-seeded Panthers’ top scorer as well as the only freshman on their roster.

Alicia Donley scored her team-leading 25th goal of the year off a header to tie the game against 10th-seeded Canal Winchester with 16 minutes to play, and freshman Tori Haggit scored the game-winner with 7:01 left as North survived an upset bid.

“We just kept on trying to pepper the goal and plug away,” North coach Greg Van Kannel said. “They put a lot of girls back on defense and made it tough on us. They were double-teaming Donley quite a bit, but we got one through. They battled us. They made it a great game.”

The Panthers, who won their third consecutive district championship, improved to 17-1-1 and advanced to play Dublin Jerome in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Olentangy. Jerome handed North its only loss of the season, 3-1 on Oct. 12.

Canal Winchester, which finished 13-5-1 and was making its first Division I district final appearance, took the lead early in the first half when Anaya Edwards converted a free kick from Grace Koehler.

“It was an opportunistic finish,” Indians coach Alex Wentz said. “We had a lot of energy and we might have caught (North) sleeping, but we woke the giant after that.”

—Dave Purpura

Olentangy Liberty 3, Olentangy Orange 1

Eighth-seeded Liberty won its fourth consecutive district championship by defeating ninth-seeded Orange in a Division I district final Oct. 28 at Dublin Jerome.

The Patriots improved to 11-5-3 and advanced to play Darby in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Westerville Central.

Abby Townsend opened Liberty’s scoring with 26:35 left in the first half as the Patriots built a 3-0 lead over Orange, which finished 11-7-1.

“Orange beat us in the regular season (2-1 on Sept. 12) and won (the) OCC(-Buckeye Division title), so this was big for us,” Liberty coach Kristen McMahon said. “The girls were charged up for this.”

Laura Bichsel and Gia Gaetano also scored for the Patriots, and goalie Riley Cartwright had seven saves.

Delaney Earl scored for Orange and goalie Linnea Milner had three saves.

—Scott Hennen

Dublin Jerome 4, Olentangy 1

Sam Poptic scored 91 seconds into the game to set the tone as fourth-seeded Jerome defeated sixth-seeded Olentangy in a Division I district final Oct. 28 at Westerville South to win its second consecutive district championship.

Madison Burrier, Riley Mullady and Nicole Ogden each added one goal for the Celtics, who improved to 12-3-2 and advanced to play Pickerington North in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Olentangy.

“If there is a time to peak, it’s now, and we appear to be doing that,” Jerome coach Kelly Brothers said. “We’ve just been capitalizing on our goals within our system.”

Natalie Hegg scored for the Braves, who finished 11-5-3.

—Dave Purpura


Big Walnut 1, Granville 0 (SO)

Second-seeded Big Walnut defeated top-seeded Granville on penalty kicks in the Division II district final Oct. 28 at Westerville North.

The game was scoreless through regulation and two overtimes.

The Golden Eagles improved to 14-2-4 and advanced to play Chillicothe Unioto in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Bloom-Carroll. The Blue Aces, who were a state semifinalist last season, finished 14-4-2.

—Jarrod Ulrey


Grandview 1, Columbus Academy 0 (SO)

Grandview avenged a regular-season loss to Columbus Academy by defeating the Vikings on penalty kicks in a Division III district final Oct. 28 at Gahanna.

The game was scoreless through regulation and two 15-minute overtime periods. The Bobcats outscored Academy 4-2 on penalty kicks.

Kirsten Lower, Maddie Arndt, Tia Thomas and Hallie Georskey scored for Grandview, and Claire Neltner and Sarah Neltner scored for Academy.

Grandview goalie Ruby Gentile had 14 saves and Academy goalie Kyra Zoog made two.

The Vikings defeated the Bobcats 5-4 on Oct. 7 at Mapfre Stadium on their way to winning the MSL-Ohio title at 6-0-1. Grandview went 4-2-1 in the league.

“Winning the league is important, but winning (district) is really what we’re playing for,” Grandview coach Mike Merna said.

Grandview improved to 16-2-1 and advanced to play Zanesville Rosecrans in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Lakewood. The Bobcats defeated Rosecrans 2-0 in an MSL-Ohio game Sept. 16.

Academy finished 14-3-2.

—Frank DiRenna