CLAYTON — Several of Cincinnati Ursuline Academy’s girls soccer fans showed up wearing bright yellow banana costumes on Wednesday. They did so in part to celebrate Halloween, and in part to cheer on the Lions with their “Go Bananas for Ursuline” message.
It was rather appropriate for the Division I regional semifinal, where Ursuline gave Centerville the slip. The Lions knocked off the Elks, 1-0, at Northmont High School’s Good Samaratin Stadium.
“They’re a very good team,” said Centerville coach Don Skelton. “I don’t think we need to hang our heads at all. They are very tough.”
Centerville played Ursuline tough for the first half and much of the second. Both teams had good runs at the goal but couldn’t convert as keepers Abby Glover (Centerville) and Andi Marcis (Ursuline) protected the nets. The Lions, though, broke through with 27:34 left in regulation.
Ursuline striker Kiondra McGee, frustrated by calls and getting shaken up battling for a ball in the air, had enough. Dribbling in the corner, McGee — daughter of former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tim McGee — powered past three Elks defenders. Her sliding shot had enough loft on it to get over Glover and just under the crossbar.
“She was really frustrated and really upset,” Ursuline coach Colleen Dehring said of the Elks’ defensive pressure. “They did a nice job with her in the first half. But if you cross the line with her she gets mad.”
No more than a minute before her score, McGee — a University of Kentucky recruit — was knocked to the ground by a Centerville player as both cleanly played a ball in the air.
“The McGee girl just outmuscled us on that one goal it’s all it took,” Skelton said. “But we just kept coming back and back and back. This team has been like that all year long. This is a great group. It’s a group I hate to lose.”
Ursuline (17-1-1, No. 3 in final D-I state poll) won its 17th straight game after starting the season with a loss to Sycamore and a tie with Loveland. The win set up a regional final with Cincinnati St. Ursula at Princeton High School on Saturday. Ursuline beat Ursula 2-0 in late September.
Centerville (14-2-5) had a pair of quality scoring chances after McGee’s goal. A 20-yard shot with 25 minutes left curved just outside the far post and a rip from 15-yards out with 17 minutes left was right at Marcis.
“This is one of the best teams we’ve had,” said Ursuline coach Colleen Dehring. “But there was 27 minutes left and anything can happen in soccer.”
Ursuline controlled most of the first half but seemed just a step behind on its scoring chances. Elks’ defenders Lauren Strok and Tara Tokar led the way. Strok marked McGee and Tokar’s slide to knock away a Lions’ offensive run kept the game scoreless just before the half.
“We got beat by a very fine team. And they beat a very fine team,” said Skelton. “I thought we represented the Dayton area very well. … I hate like heck we’re not practicing (today).”