Olympians edge New Castle, advance to regional final

All season long, the Columbus East girls soccer team had tried but had been unable to turn one of Danielle Rodgers’ lethal flip-throw-ins into a goal.

Until Wednesday.

The Olympians picked their biggest game of the season to date to convert a Rodgers heave into a score. Addy Galarno finished in the 36th minute for the game’s lone goal in a 1-0 win against New Castle in the East Central Regional semifinals.

“I’ve been waiting for that moment for at least four years now,” Rodgers said. “It was pretty nice to see them finally finish. I know we’ve been working on it in practice, and we’ve been doing pretty well finishing.”

The win puts the Olympians (11-4-5) in Saturday’s regional final, where they will meet host East Central at 1 p.m. The Trojans routed Silver Creek 6-0 in Wednesday’s second semifinal.

Rodgers performs a unique throw-in, where she performs a forward roll over the ball. She had tried a few of those throw-ins in the first half before the Olympians found the net.

Freshman Sarah Park got a shoulder on the throw in. The ball bounced off New Castle goalkeeper Sarah Downs, who had come off the line to challenge Park.

“I just knew I had to keep (Downs) from getting the ball,” Park said.

The ball veered to the right, where Galarno was waiting to put it away.

“We just kept trying at it, and one of those times, we hoped it would go in,” Galarno said. “Thankfully, that time it did. We needed it.”

The score was East’s lone shot on goal in the first half and one of only three for the game. New Castle put seven shots on goal and out shot the Olympians 13-6 overall.

East’s defense came up big in the second half, preventing the Trojans from making any serious threats. Goalkeeper Bryn Eudy stopped a close-range shot from Sam Underwood in the 55th minute and leaped to grab a ball in front of the goal in the final 15 seconds of the match to preserve the win.

“Our defense has really come around, and the ladies are putting out tremendous effort,” Schwartzman said. “Then Bryn made some fantastic saves. The defense played tough, and the midfielders and forwards put pressure on them.”

Eudy, who finished with seven saves, and the defense, featuring center backs Ella Rohlfs and Morgan Martindale and outside backs Kayla Gastineau and Mila Lipinski, continually turned away New Castle’s offensive attack.

“It was very solid, especially Ella back on defense, and Morgan, too,” Rodgers said. “They were very solid clearing those balls out.”

The Olympians now turn their attention to East Central. The Trojans beat Columbus East 3-1 Sept. 26 in the Center Grove Tournament.

“That was not a good game,” Schwartzman said. “We’ve come a long way as a team. I’m real proud of the way the kids are playing right now.”