Girls Soccer: Experience, scoring balance benefiting Braves

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Midfielder Carly Ross has helped the Olentangy girls soccer team find success despite a rugged schedule. The Braves were 8-2-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Hilliard Darby on Oct. 1.

Kylee Beinecke called this year’s schedule the toughest for the Olentangy girls soccer team in her four seasons.

Considering it has included a team that was ranked in last week’s Division I state poll and close games against each of the Braves’ three intradistrict rivals that were decided by a combined three goals, the senior forward has a point.

Considering that the Braves also got out to their best 11-game start in coach Earl Devanny’s four seasons, it might indicate where this year’s team stands in terms of talent and what it believes it can accomplish.

With three Division I commits leading the way and a fourth college hopeful in goal, Olentangy was 8-2-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Hilliard Darby on Oct. 1. The Braves won seven of their first 11 games in each of the previous four years, but never more until this season.

“Our competition this year is the toughest it’s been all four years I’ve been here,” said Beinecke, a Miami University commit. “We have a lot of talent on this team. All four of us (captains) will play Division I soccer and more of the younger girls will, too. This is what I expected as far as contributing. It was never going to be just one person.”

Beinecke and forward Rachel Austin, a Youngstown State commit, shared the lead in goals through 11 games with eight each. Midfielder Audrey Oliver had six and forward Lexi Green had five. Oliver and Green are sophomores.

Senior Katie Scott, who is uncommitted, is the Braves’ top goalie. Midfielder Carly Ross plans to sign with Belmont.

“It’s been nice seeing this team evolve. We’ve had a lot of games where we’ve competed hard and pushed ourselves for 80 minutes,” Devanny said. “We’ve worked the outside attacking zones and the central attacking zones really well and that puts a lot of players into position to score. We have a lot of good finishers and we’ve had 10 different girls score. That shows how well we’ve shared the ball and worked together.”

An early season gauntlet included a scoreless tie against Orange on Sept. 5, a 1-0 win over Liberty on Sept. 12 and losses to fifth-ranked Watterson (1-0 on Sept. 6) and perennial Division I power Pickerington North (4-2 on Sept. 8).

Olentangy posted three shutouts in its first 11 games and four more games in which it allowed just one goal, outscoring its opponents 36-15.

“We improved during the Orange game. That was right in the middle of the harder part of the season and even though it was a tie, we all grew from that. We knew if we stuck with our plan, we’d be fine,” Ross said. “We just need to finish. We have so much buildup into the final third, but it’s a matter of putting the ball in the net.”

Austin and Devanny expected that strong defensive play will be key down the stretch.

“I want them to focus on playing the game and not on the event itself,” Devanny said. “Play the way they can play and the results will follow.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave