Veteran Beavercreek boys soccer coach John Giuliano learned the secret to a successful season long ago. The challenge was getting players to buy in.
“A lot of kids have sacrificed personal goals and everything else for the accomplishment of the team,” said Guliano as the Beavers prepared to play for an elusive Division I state championship on Saturday. “They set some goals at the start of the season and slowly worked through them one by one. They just decided team winning was more important than personal goals. It takes a good group of kids.”
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Beavercreek advanced by defeating Dublin Coffman 1-0 on Joshua Fleck’s header off a corner kick five minutes into the second sudden victory overtime on Wednesday at London. Defending D-II boys state champ Alter wasn’t as fortunate, losing its state semi 2-0 to Columbus St. Francis DeSales at Springfield.
Beavercreek (21-0-2) will play upstart Medina (16-1-5) in the D-I state championship at 7 p.m. Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium (formerly Crew) in Columbus. Medina advanced by blanking Cleveland St. Ignatius 2-0 in its state semi.
That will be the last of three boys state title games. The three girls division state championships will be held on Friday also at MAPFRE Stadium. No area girls team qualified.
This is the eighth time for Beavercreek to reach the state semifinals, including three of the last four seasons. Beavercreek has been the big-school state runner-up twice, in 2008 and 1990. Beavercreek and Medina both were knocked out in state semifinals last season.
A senior-dominated team, Beavercreek’s leading scorer is Dominic Calabrese (15 goals, nine assists). Jacob Westerkamp and Fleck each have 10 goals and a combined 23 assists. Liam Dipple has been clutch in goal with 97 saves. The Beavers have outscored their tourney opponents 37-3 and posted five shutouts.
Guiliano said the Beavers have above-average team speed and size. Just as important, there’s minimal talent drop-off from the subs. Most Beavercreek players also play for club teams, although many in different positions. That means at least half the starters are experienced at multiple positions.
“We thought we had a good shot with all the kids returning,” said Guiliano, in his 29th season as the Beavers’ coach. “The speed is there and understanding the game and our system and that’s the big thing.”