WORTHINGTON – Having gone through the regular season undefeated and outscoring three tournament opponents, 42-1, the Bloom-Carroll girls soccer team was hoping this would be the year they would finally break through and win an elusive district title.
While the Bulldogs have looked dominant all season, they knew it would be a tough task facing an experienced and talented Granville team, and even more important, a battle-tested team that is all too familiar with playing and winning district championships.
Bloom-Carroll entered Saturday night’s Central District Division II district final with a ton of confidence, and it was bolstered even more when senior Sophia Haughn scored 12 minutes into the game to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
However, No. 1 seed Granville never wavered, and thanks to a strong defense, seemed to wear No. 2 seed Bloom-Carroll down in the second half. The Blue Aces were able to tie it at 1-1 at halftime and then added two more goals late in the second half to secure a hard-fought 3-1 district championship victory at Worthington Christian.
The Blue Aces (17-1-1), who have now won three district titles in the last four years and seven in the last 10 years, advance to a regional semifinal against another undefeated team, Waynesville, at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Bellbrook High School.
Bloom-Carroll, which suffered its first loss of the season, finishes with a 19-1 overall record, and the 19 wins is the most in school history. Bulldog coach Mark Casperson said his team represented itself well against one of the top teams in the state.
“If you ask me, it’s two of the best teams in the state that had to face each other too early in the tournament,” Casperson said. “Granville) is a loaded and deep squad, they are very physical in the right way, they are well-coached, and we have tons of respect for their program. I thought it was a heavyweight battle that went back and forth, and it stinks that our season has come to an end, but our district is tough.
“We were happy to get the early goal and I thought we were able to create enough chances to get another one in, but obviously, we had a breakdown on their second goal and we had to push numbers forward to try and get a goal at the end. Their depth and physicality took a toll on us, and they are dangerous in every spot. What makes Granville so good is you can’t take away one player because the next player can step up and beat you, as well.”
Granville senior Alysha Wallace attempts to knock the ball away from Bloom-Carroll senior Jordyn Adams during the Blue Aces’ 3-1 victory to win the Division II district title at Worthington Christian on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022.
After the Bulldogs took the lead, it was only fitting that Granville senior Ella Schneider scored the Blue Aces’ first goal to tie the game with 12:47 left in the first half. Schneider missed most of the season with a head injury she suffered in a car accident before the season.
“It was so hard to go to every practice and every game and watch my team doing so well and I couldn’t contribute, so to finally be out here again and winning another district title, it has been a dream come true because I didn’t think I would be back,” Schneider said. “We knew we had the experience of playing in district final games, but we also had to realize that Bloom-Carroll was a good team and not take them for granted, and even though they were undefeated, we felt like they were beatable.”
The Blue Aces’ Ava Labocki scored the go-ahead goal with 16:18 remaining off an Allie Messner assist, and Lyndy Van Horn made it 3-1 with 8:44 left on Schneider’s assist.
Granville coach Scott Forster knew it would be a challenge facing the Bulldogs, but the key was how well his team adjusted in the second half.
“Bloom-Carroll showed they weren’t intimidated by us, and they showed they belonged here just like we did,” Forster said “They didn’t back down in the first half. We just had to step back, take a breath, and make some adjustments at halftime, which resulted in us getting behind them more. We knew we had a good attack and were going to score goals, and in the second half, we wore them down and they didn’t seem to play with the same energy.”
Tom Wilson is a sports reporter for the Lancaster Eagle Gazette. Contact him at 740-689-5150 or via email at [email protected] for comments or story tips. Follow him on Twitter @twil2323.
This article originally appeared on Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: Granville overcomes early deficit, tops Bloom-Carroll to win D-II district title