And here the Spartans are again in the state final. They will play Copley in a battle of unbeatens at 7 p.m. Friday at Lower.com Field in Columbus for the Division II title.
The Spartans entered tournament play at 10-6 last season before winning the program’s first state title. The schedule this year was just as difficult with plenty of games against Division II teams, so the Spartans never doubted they could compete at the higher level. But they needed a strategy.
Bricker, her assistants and her seniors met over the summer and discussed goals. The No. 1 goal probably wasn’t what most people would expect.
“Their biggest thing was they didn’t want to spend the season comparing themselves to last year, that they wanted to live in this season, in the present and take it one game at a time and just worry about what we’re doing now,” Bricker said. “Last year was fantastic, and they celebrated and it was well earned. But this year’s a brand new season.”
The Spartans (21-0) haven’t brushed off the one-game-at-a-time idea as a cliché from what Bricker has seen. They dominated most opponents, and when it came to other strong teams they won close games. They beat DII Monroe (13-4-2) 2-0 and 2-1, Division I Miamisburg (13-4-3) 1-0 and have allowed only two goals in six tournament games.
“We knew we had to prepare throughout the season for that higher level of play, and that faster speed and the stronger play throughout the season to make sure that we were ready to go for the postseason.,” Bricker said “The coaching staff and the seniors this year, we always try to push the girls to aim for what they want at the end of the season. They wanted to go back to state and set that goal. So it was just a matter of here’s what we’ve got to do to work towards that.”
The Spartans are led in scoring by junior center midfielder Samantha Erbach with 43 goals and 18 assists for 104 points. She was named the No. 6 player in Ohio in a preseason poll. She also finished No. 2 in the Division II state cross country meet Saturday, then scored two goals that evening in a 3-0 regional final victory over Cincinnati Summit Country Day.
In total, 12 soccer players compete in cross country. Five of them ran at the state cross country meet. Junior Emme Greely and freshman Kendall Erbach are starters, and Kyla Harvey and Alyza Camp are the first subs off the bench.
Copley (21-0) is playing in its first state final after a 7-1 semifinal victory over Bay Village Bay. Copley has outscored its foes 132-5. Bricker has watched them on film.
“They’re definitely an offensive team that we have to be aware of and understand their attacking power,” Bricker said. “It’ll be a great competitive game because Copley is fast, and they’re aggressive on the net. And we’ve got to be ready for them.”