Hayes and Olentangy’s girls soccer teams should be very familiar with each other by Tuesday evening. The Pacers and Braves played Thursday at Braves Field in non-league action, but play again in the first round of the Division I sectional tournament at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.
Olentangy won the first round, getting a late first half goal and two more in the second half for a 3-0 non-league win on Senior Night at Olentangy High School.
Hayes (4-11-1) got off the first three shots of the game, all three from long distance, but Olentangy (7-6-1) dominated the first half. The Braves outshot the Pacers 13-6 in the first half and were able to keep the ball in the Hayes’ defensive half much of the time.
“We seemed to dominate possession for most of the game, so I think that just gave us a lot of confidence,” Olentangy JV coach Ben Au said. “It’s always interesting seeing how the girls respond, especially on Senior Night, so it was nice to see the seniors get a lot of playing time and get the win.”
“We’ve been in a rut,” Hayes coach Dan Fuchs said. “We’ve been trying to find some confidence, but tonight I thought we competed very well. We created some chances, but we need to be a little tighter defensively and maintain some possession, and that will relieve some of the pressure.”
Olentangy got 11 shots and three corners in a 20-minute span and allowed the Pacers just two shots in that same period. On their 12th shot of the period, the Braves would finally capitalize.
Braves sophomore Allison Zahler intercepted a Pacer pass inside the 18-yard box, took the ball to the right side and sent a pass into the left side of the six-yard box, where sophomore Ally Lowery deposited it past Hayes keeper Taryn Sweeney with 11:01 left in the first half.
“It was a nice cross from Allison and Ally put it away,” Au said. “It was sort of bouncing around the box, but Allison got hold of it and put a nice cross in.”
Both teams had its chances in the first 20 minutes of the second half. Hayes had six shots in the second, including three on net, but their best chance came with about 31 minutes left.
Junior Abbey Frey took a free kick from deep inside the Pacer end that bounced past the Braves’ defense and onto the foot of sophomore Aly Smiley, who ran the ball down and drove into the right side of the Olentangy 18. Smiley blasted a shot on net, but Braves’ goalkeeper Alex Russell was there for the save.
“Aly Smiley has created chances for herself all season,” Fuchs said. “She’s our leading scorer and she’s a team leader, and when something’s not working sometimes, she’s able to make something out of nothing.”
The Pacers kept the pressure up, getting five shots and a corner kick in less than 10 minutes, but still could not dent the net, despite good attacks and shot attempts from Aly Smiley, senior Amanda Smiley, junior Bethany Naegele and senior Tori Bias.
Olentangy, meanwhile, got a pair of chances with just under 20 minutes left, and connected on one. Huter blocked down a Hayes pass attempt, took the ball into the left side of the box and passed to junior Catie Crumb, whose shot appeared to be deflected off Sweeney’s hands and out, but the officials ruled a goal kick for the Pacers.
“Our defense has been pretty good all year, but the constant pressure we face causes things to happen against us,” Fuchs said. “We need to maintain possession and create more quality chances.”
Shortly after, Olentangy junior Chelsea Sparks intercepted a Hayes pass, dribbled to the right of the box and sent a pass to Crumb, who buried the shot past Sweeney into the left side of the net with 18:28 to play.
Olentangy ended the scoring with 10:30 left in the match, when sophomore Bridgette Boyle shot a pass into the box to Crumb, and the junior pounded her shot by Sweeney for the final goal.
“I think we finally figured out how to combat their trap by staying on our defensive half and making those through balls,” Au said. “We left a couple more opportunities out there but Catie gave us a couple nice finishes.”
Olentangy finished the night with a 23-12 edge in total shots and an 11-3 advantage in shots on goal. Both teams finished with four corner kicks.
Russell, making the start in place of junior keeper Bailey Hatch, had three saves in her varsity debut. Sweeney was strong in goal for Hayes as well, closing with eight saves on the night.