BEACHWOOD—Earlier this season, the Beachwood girls’ soccer team set a new school record for wins in a single season. On Thursday, the Bison accomplished another milestone by claiming the program’s first sectional title with a 1-0 victory over visiting Independence.
The postseason win was the first for Beachwood since the 2014 season. The Bison, who tripled their win title from a season ago, will travel to Kirtland on Monday for the school’s first district semifinal.
“It’s been incredible,” said Beachwood coach Jonathan Kostoff. “The goals that we set were, can we get to .500 this year, can we compete in the league, can we win more home games than not and we far exceeded anything I thought was possible. We were a five-win team last year. The biggest thing was could we come in and change the culture and we did that. It’s not just the wins. It’s the team chemistry, the team bonding. The girls love being together and they believe in themselves in any challenge they face.”
Thursday’s challenge included facing an Independence team inspired to avenge a 3-2 loss at Beachwood two weeks earlier that prevented the Blue Devils from winning their first conference title.
“We knew it would be a tough game,” Kostoff said. “They were coming in hungry as heck because we stole what they wanted, which was a conference championship. They knew they had another chance at us but credit to the girls, they worked so hard for this and now we have a chance to play one of the best teams in the state and that’s exciting for us.”
Romi Roth scored in the 10th minute off an assist from Sydney Sarver to give the Bison an early lead.
Beachwood’s defense did the rest in shutting down the Blue Devils for the remaining 80 minutes.
“We’re 13-0 when scoring the first goal in the game,” Kostoff said. “That was the one problem we had against Independence the first time around. They put a free kick in during the ninth minute to go up 1-0. We had to make sure tonight that we put the first one in to take their momentum out of it and their crowd out of it. We had a mindset that if we can score that first goal then we can set the tempo for this game and then defend like crazy.”
Madison Prince recorded 10 saves for the Bison, who improved to 15-3 overall.
Independence had its chances but shots sailed far and wide and Prince got in the way of nearly a dozen others.
“That’s kind of been the story of the year,” Independence coach Bryan Less said. “When our offense is playing well we just don’t put them away. Hannah MacRaild had a really nice shot to the far post. Their goalie was actually out of position but it worked out well because she was right where the ball went. Riccela (DiGeronimo) almost put one in from deep, so we had our opportunities.”
Beachwood also missed on a couple of chances to increase its lead and Reni Kaiser was masterful in diving to her right and left to keep the Blue Devils within reach.
“They definitely outworked us in the first half,” Less said. “I thought we had a really good second half. Some of the offensive stuff we were doing in the second half was some of the best I’ve seen in my coaching career. We just couldn’t put one away.”
Independence closed its season with a 10-7-1 record.