If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.
Jonathan Alder girls soccer coach Matt Evans knows this, but also realizes the longer he can avoid the really good teams in the state, the better chance his Lady Pioneers (11-3-1) have of achieving their ultimate goal.
A year ago Alder won a district title for the first time in school history, but ran into one of the best teams in the state when it hit the Division II regional semifinal and Cincinnati Indian Hill. The coach was determined to take the easier regional path this year, which means his squad which was selected the No. 2 seed in the district, will likely have to be beat No. 1 seed Granville to get to that seemingly easier region.
“I am happy with our draw,” Evans said. “We have to take care of business in the first round and then we’ll have to deal with a very tough game against London. We think we are one of the best teams in the state, so it doesn’t matter who we play, we just have to go out and prove it. I would put this group up against anyone.”
As for going into the bracket with Granville, it’s all about the end prize.
“The winner of the district has an easier path to regionals and we felt that if we chose that bracket, then everyone else would stay away. We saw last year how tough the Cincinnati bracket can be and we wanted to set ourselves up for the best road for a long run. Our goal is not a district championship, it’s a state championship.”
Alder will open the Central District tournament at home Monday, Oct. 17, against No. 18 seed Columbus International. If Alder wins its tournament opener it will play host to No. 13 London Oct. 19. That winner would advance to a district semifinal. The next highest seeded team in the bracket is No. 6 Buckeye Valley.
London (2-7-1) is the 13th seed out of 19 teams in the D-II tournament.
The West Jefferson Lady Roughriders were selected the No. 5 seed (out of 12) in the upcoming D-III tourney, while Madison-Plains is the 12th seed.
West Jeff has a first-round bye and will play either No. 4 Fairbanks or No. 7 Columbus School for Girls on Oct. 19 at the site of the better seeded squad.
Plains will play at No. 6 seed The Wellington School Oct. 17. The winner will advance to play at No. 3 Columbus Academy Oct. 19.
Alder wins MOAC
The Lady Pioneers goals for this season were set not long after their season ended last year at the hands of Cincinnati Indian Hill. Those goals included not only winning a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title, but finishing a complete sweep of league foes in its three years in the Conference.
Alder did just that with a dominating 8-o win over Highland Monday.
“One of our goals this season, as we are leaving the MOAC, was to win for the third year in a row and exit the conference undefeated. I am very proud of these girls and they deserve everything that will come their way,” Evans said.
Alder went a perfect 24-0 in its three seasons as members of the MOAC. The school will move to the Central Buckeye Conference next fall. Winning the league was one goal, but not the only goal.
“If you ask our team, they will tell you the season doesn’t start until mid-October,” the coach said. “That is the culture that we started last year and are continuing to build. We have yet to play a complete game so far which is scary, because we have done some amazing things thus far. But our girls have been working hard since January to win a championship, not to just win 12 games and get knocked out in the first round.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.