Three straight years Liberty-Benton ended Eastwood’s girls soccer season in the Division III regional tournament.
Tuesday, the No. 2 ranked Eastwood Eagles made sure it did not happen a fourth time, defeating the L-B Eagles, 2-0, in a regional semifinal at Bowling Green High School’s Bobcat Stadium.
“It’s been a long three years going down to them every single year,” said Eastwood senior forward Aubrey Haas, who scored both goals.
“I told people tonight that ‘listen, tonight we’re going to end our streak of losing to Liberty-Benton. We deserve this. We were made to be here.’
“It gave us confidence all around and I think that’s what carried us.”
Haas has been the one stepping up since the injury of three-time All-Ohioan and All-American senior forward Makenna Souder, the program’s all-time leading scorer who is out for the season with an injury.
“For her to come up again and be our goal scorer, with Kenna Souder being out, its … huge,” Eastwood coach Megan Rutherford said.
“She does whatever the team needs. She plays her heart out on defense. She sets the tone defensively, and she’s scrappy,” Rutherford said.
“That’s why we moved her. She used to play outside, and we moved her on top just because she sets the tone and she’s that intense of a player. Good for her and good for the team.”
Eastwood, which has won 19 games by shutout and has outscored opponents 150-2, improves to 20-0. L-B saw its season end at 13-5-2.
Eastwood will meet Ottawa-Glandorf (19-1), winners over Coldwater, at a site to be determined Saturday for the regional championship and the right to move on to the state final four.
Eastwood had defeated L-B, 5-0, in the season opener, so L-B knew what to expect.
Eastwood outshot L-B, 8-1, in the first half, and Eastwood forced 11 goal kicks, while taking just one, and had four corner kicks to L-B’s zero.
But the L-B back-line managed to keep Eastwood out of the net as senior goalkeeper Allie Hiegel had six saves.
“We were blocking them in and had a few threats there, so I thought we did a nice job defensively,” L-B coach Andy Modd said.
Ten minutes into the second half, Haas beat a defender and was one-on-one with Hiegel when she got run over by the defender from behind — it was not the first time that happened.
The L-B defender was whistled for the foul, one of nine called against L-B, and Haas got her second penalty kick opportunity in two games.
Like Haas’ PK score during the 2-0 district final win over Lake, Haas found the net. However, Hiegel got enough of her hand on the ball to stop its momentum, but not enough to keep the Haas’ shot from rolling into the goal.
“I had a penalty kick in the last game. I’ve been in that position before. I’m a senior, having confidence in myself and I have all my teammates giving me that confidence,” Haas said.
Haas’ first score put Eastwood up 1-0 with 29:01 to play, plenty of time for L-B to counter.
But L-B was unable, despite getting five second half shots, including three on frame. Meanwhile, Eastwood had 11 second half shots, including eight on goal, and outshot L-B, 19-6, for the game.
Finally, on Eastwood’s sixth corner kick opportunity, Haas found the handle on a ball placed perfectly in front of the net by senior midfielder Kaylynn Simon. One quick kick, and Haas one-timed the ball into the net.
The second goal by Haas, who got career goal No. 100 in the win over Lake, gave Eastwood a 2-0 lead with 6:15 remaining.
Simon had a team-high 15 intercepts. On several occasions after regaining possession, she would beat defenders while heading downfield, which Rutherford said was part of the second half strategy.
As a result, L-B had a difficult time getting past Eastwood’s back line.
“We got comfortable playing defense in our half, and we just couldn’t build up any counter attacks and get the ball to feed,” Modd said.
Simon said the defensive line, led by senior Mikayla Hoelter, junior Kayden Firsdon and sophomores Amelia Ward and Reilly Might, have confidence in the midfield and in each other.
“We just have confidence in each other. We know if it gets past one line, we know the next line is going to take care of it,” Simon said.
“I think that trust really ensures that we know we are going to get that ball, even if we don’t get it the first time, we are going to get it the second time or the third time,” Simon continued.
Eastwood freshman keeper Jordan Jensen finished with four saves.
Hiegel finished with 11 saves, including multiple stops after an Eastwood 30-yard shot hit the top crossbar, leading to a flurry of shots from inside the box.