The Jonathan Alder girls soccer team wasn’t at its best in a Division II District semifinal Wednesday against Buckeye Valley, but it did what it needed to do to grab a 2-1 victory and advance to the program’s third straight district championship game.
“I am so proud of our girls tonight,” Alder coach Matt Evans said. “They fought and scraped against a good team in a physical game. We all agreed after the game that we did not play well, but understand it is survive and advance now. We give credit to how well BV played and are happy we live to play again and prove we are better than be played tonight.”
Alder defeated Buckeye Valley High School 4-2 in the regular-season tilt between the two squads and Evans knew his team would get the Barons best effort. Neither team could put the ball in the first half, but it was the Lady Pioneers (14-4-1) which had more opportunities.
“BV has become a rival of ours and regardless of scores past, every game is physical, intense and close,” the coach said. “We were not surprised at how well they did, but our girls were able to suffer more and still be standing. So proud of them.
“At halftime I told the girls to just take a deep breath. Their goalie made some amazing saves in the first half and we were able to hang on and play defense and survive. We have played in games like that all season and it was nothing new, but overall we are a very young team and the girls just needed to know we have confidence in them and to relax and play. I challenged our seniors to show up and make something happen and they did.”
Alder got a score from Hannah Headlee to make it 1-0 and Sophie Thomas found the back of the net to increase the advantage to two goals. That extra cushion proved key as the Barons scored late in the contest to once again make it a one-goal game.
“Well 2-0 felt better than 1-0 and I was able to breathe for about five seconds,” he said. “And then it was back to trying to stop them. They were dangerous all night and I knew the game was not over but our girls were able to battle and hang on.”
Up next is a district final championship between the top two teams in the Central District. No. 2 Alder will square off with No. 1 Granville at Grandview Heights High School Saturday at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to the regional semifinal. The same spot Alder reached a year ago.
“This will be three district finals in a row now for this group, so it is nothing new,” Evans said. “We won for the first time last year and got that out of the way, so now we can relax and go play. Granville is a very good team, but a very beatable team. We will be the underdog in most people’s mind, but inside our huddle, we expect to win.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.