Beavers made it a season to remember
ZANESVILLE — The Beaver Local girls soccer team gave everything it had against state-ranked Granville in a Division II regional semifinal on Saturday.
Defense and shot blocking were the two biggest keys for Beaver, but it was just a matter of time for the Blue Aces to take over. The faster, more experienced and more confident Blue Aces defeated the Beavers 3-0.
“We definitely gave them a run today. They definitely had to work for it,” Beaver head coach Elizabeth Connor said. “We went out with intensity and had a few opportunities that we couldn’t capitalize on.”
Granville (13-6-2) advances to the state tournament and will face the winner of Archbishop McNicholas-Archbishop Alter on at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The Blue Aces first scored with more than 25 minutes remaining in the first half. That’s when Katie Cox began her hat trick on an assist from Reilly Welles. That was the lone score when halftime arrived.
“Our defense definitely kept us in the game,” Connor said. “The speed and hard work of Lexie Hilliard was a difference. Madison Cline and Jenna Riccardo also played back there. We told our defense to play aggressive and not let them feel settled.”
Still trailing 1-0 with approximately 28 minutes left in the game, the Beavers (14-4-2) had three consecutive opportunities to knot the score. Alexa Schwerha connected on three well-placed corner kicks, but the Beavers could not find the back of the net.
“Those were three good kicks, but we couldn’t get them in,” Connor said. “There was some confusion in the middle as well. We couldn’t finish off any opportunity today.”
That was all Granville needed. Five minutes later, Cox recorded her second goal after a perfect pass from teammate Natalie Pireu. Five minutes after that, Cox completed her hat trick off a penalty kick.
Overall the Blue Aces had 10 shots on goal compared to Beaver’s four. Goalkeeper Jackie Francis stopped Granville seven times.
“We’re very upset that we lost, but we’re very glad we got this far,” senior Taylor Wright said. “We (seniors) have never been this far, so at least we got to finish on top.”
Saturday marked a bittersweet end to the best season in Beaver Local girls soccer history. No other team had reached the Elite Eight.
“The ride was amazing. The girls definitely played their hearts out throughout the entire season,” Connor said.
And who’s to say the Beavers are not poised to return against next year. They are losing six seniors with the majority of their starters returning.
Wright and Alanna Ice are the only two senior starters that will be lost. They are confident they will return to Zanesville, or wherever the 2017 Division II regional final will be held, to cheer the Beavers to a regional championship.
“The friendships we made on the team is what we’ll remember the most,” Ice said.
“I think next year they’ll come back and win it, and we’ll be sitting in the stands to cheer them on like our parents did,” Wright said.
¯ Granville played without Rose Sawyers, one of its leading scorers. Sawyers tore her ACL during a practice earlier this week. She was introduced first.