There was emotion before the game and emotion after it, and the McKitricks had extra reason to appreciate the moment. Twenty three years earlier, Sarah, then with her maiden name Schaeffer, helped lead the Beavercreek girls basketball team to 28-0 record and the Division I state championship. She also played for the soccer team that reached the state final four in 1993.
Now Sarah got to see her daughter experience a 24-0 season and a state championship. Sarah was a junior in 1995. Tiernan is a junior in 2018.
Of the many great storylines this fall surrounding the Beavercreek girls soccer team — coach Steve Popp winning his first title with the program in his 20th season, the team scoring the second-most goals (140) in state history and the program earning a No. 2 ranking in the nation from USA Today — this mother-daughter story ranks near the top.
“Being able to sit back and watch them celebrate with smiles and the fans, it brought me back to that moment,” Sarah said. “Back then, (fans) were able to rush the court at the basketball game. I remember the entire stands coming onto the court and us being on the bottom of a pile. Watching the girls be able to do that when they ran over to the stands to all the fans and the students and getting to see your own kid smile from ear to ear and being so connected as a coach, I got to see the process happen. When you’re a parent, you get to watch it from a distance, but as a coach, you’re really involved in the day-to-day of what happened — what they did to get to that point.”
Tiernan grew up hearing about her mom's high school stories. Last fall, she wore Sarah's state championship jacket from 1995 — thinking, 'This should be good luck' — to the boys state soccer championship game and watched from the stands as Beavercreek beat Medina 1-0 in double overtime.
It was at that game when Tiernan and two friends started talking about winning a state championship of their own. It was almost a joke then, even though they knew they would have a great team.
“We said we want to come back here next year and be playing and win state just like them,” Tiernan said.
That’s what happened Nov. 9. Marcella Cash, Ella Bianco (two goals) and Diana Benigno scored in the first half, and then Beavercreek held on in the final minutes as Strongsville tried to rally.
“It was crazy,” Tiernan said. “It was just like a breath of relief almost because we worked so hard and we made it.”
» EARLIER COVERAGE: Beavercreek beats Watterson in semifinals
The same could be said of the 1995 Beavercreek girls basketball team. It beat Lakewood 50-39 in the championship game at St. John Arena. It was the first state title for Ed Zink, then 43, who had guided the team to the final four in 1991 and 1994. He won state again in 2001 and 2003. He coached his 1,000th game last January.
Sarah was a starting forward who fought back from a knee injury earlier in her high school career. She tore her ACL in April of 1994 and came back to play soccer that fall and then basketball in the winter.
For Sarah, that experience was more rewarding in that she was a part of the action on the court, but helping coach Beavercreek to a state title and seeing her daughter win a championship was meaningful in other ways.
“I don’t think, as a player, I understood the community investment in how special these moments are,” Sarah said. “As a coach, that part of it was so much more overwhelming and priceless in a way.”