Girls Soccer: Olentangy falls short in state title game
Several Olentangy girls soccer players had their pictures taken with the Division I state runner-up trophy Nov. 13 after a 3-1 loss to Strongsville at Mapfre Stadium.
Some were smiling. Some frowned, but all of them were part of a historic achievement, even if it was temporarily masked by the sting of a state final loss.
“The players kept wanting our run to go just one more game. Adjusting to the reality of what happened (Nov. 13) will take a day or two before they really start appreciating what they accomplished,” coach Earl Devanny said. “Back in July, I thought we had a complete team. We just needed to come together. We had the look early on and it was just a matter of building on that.”
Led by five senior starters, including three Division I college recruits, the Braves finished 18-3-2 overall to set a program record for wins and reach their first state tournament. Olentangy was unranked to end the regular season and seeded seventh in the district tournament but defeated two state-ranked teams in the postseason: No. 7 Watterson 1-0 at home in a regional final Nov. 7 and No. 6 Centerville 4-1 in a state semifinal Nov. 10 at Springfield.
Senior forward Kylee Beinecke, a Miami University recruit, led the offense with 16 goals and 11 assists. Senior forward Rachel Austin, who has signed with Youngstown State, added 14 goals, including two against Centerville, and three assists.
“Our motto (was) ‘one team, one goal, win state,’ ” Beinecke said. “It’s really special to me that I’ve gotten to be a huge part of it. It’s absolutely the way I want to go out.”
After a 4-2 loss to Pickerington North on Sept. 8, Olentangy went 14-0-1 in its next 15 games to reach the state final but fell behind early and was dominated in time of possession.
The Braves were outshot 22-4, including 15-3 in shots on goal. Senior goalie Katie Scott made 12 saves.
Shelby Sallee gave Strongsville a 1-0 lead 6 minutes, 22 seconds in off a rebound.
Olentangy tied it with 23:35 left in the half when sophomore forward Lexi White fired a shot into the top of the net off an assist from Beinecke, but the Braves struggled to mount threats thereafter.
The Mustangs took the lead for good with 1:35 left in the half when Taylor Demmerle tapped in a goal off her left foot, and added insurance with 15:31 to play when Coley Sidloski scored from 20 yards into the left corner of the net.
Strongsville finished 20-0 and outscored its opponents 97-8 in winning its fifth championship and first since 2011.
The Braves were the first Olentangy team to reach a state final since the baseball team did so in 2006.
Beinecke was OCC-Cardinal Division Player of the Year as the Braves went 5-0 to win the league title. Austin and senior midfielder Carly Ross also were first-team all-league.
Scott, junior Ashley Green (defender) and sophomore Audrey Oliver (midfielder) were second-team all-league, senior Olivia Johnston (midfielder) was special mention all-league and sophomore Sydney Burrs (defender) was honorable mention all-league.
Ross is a Belmont recruit.
Other starters eligible to return include sophomores Olivia Heskett (midfielder), Erin McElroy (defender) and Katie MacDowell (defender).
“This has been so emotional,” Heskett said after the state semifinal. “This is a team we’re never going to get back. We’re this team this year. This connection is unbreakable.”
•Record: 18-3-2 overall
•OCC-Cardinal standings: Olentangy (5-0), Berlin and Marysville (both 2-1-2), Dublin Jerome (2-3), Thomas Worthington (1-3-1), Hilliard Darby (0-4-1)
•Seniors lost: Rachel Austin, Kylee Beinecke, Olivia Johnston, Brooke Leonard, Jordan Renzi, Helena Ronnebaum, Carly Ross and Katie Scott
•Key returnees: Sydney Burrs, Ashley Green, Olivia Heskett, Katie MacDowell and Erin McElroy
•Postseason: Defeated Franklin Heights 10-0; def. Big Walnut 4-0; def. Orange 1-0; def. Upper Arlington 3-1; def. Watterson 1-0; def. Centerville 4-1; lost to Strongsville 3-1 in Division I state final