- Greg Billing Contributing Writer
The weather forecast for the start of the Division I boys soccer regional semifinal is 47 degrees with rain.
That might keep some spectators away, but Centerville boys soccer coach Jeff Monbeck tells his players to approach the situation with a different attitude. The same message applies to the Elks’ opponent, the Beavercreek Beavers.
“Only 16 teams are training in your division today and have the right to practice. Don’t take that lightly,” Monbeck told his team Monday during practice in similar elements.“I know it’s cold and it’s raining sideways. But you have to embrace that as a player.”
Beavercreek (18-0-2) and Centerville (14-3-3) meet in the Division I regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Lebanon Junior High School. The Greater Western Ohio Conference rivals met once during the regular season, a 3-1 Beavercreek victory that helped the Beavers claim the National East title and their seventh straight league title (both shared and outright).
Beavercreek, a D-I state semifinalist a season ago, returns a lineup full of pop. Twenty-one players have scored a goal. That’s everyone on the team excluding the two goalkeepers. Dominic Calabrese leads the team with 11 goals and Jacob Westerkamp has 10. Thirteen players have accounted for 11 points or more (goals and assists combined).
“That’s hard to mark,” Beavercreek coach John Guiliano said of opponents not being able to key on one scoring threat. We’ve been able to depend on the whole team, really, to do their part. It’s been a team effort all year long and the kids have really pulled together. We’ll see how it goes Wednesday night.”
Centerville. led by Christian Kohen’s 18 goals, will focus on slowing down Beavercreek’s attack like it did Cincinnati Moeller’s in the Elks’ 2-1 victory. And to help his team put that loss to Beavercreek behind them, Monbeck illustrated this point to his team: St. Xavier beat Centerville during the regular season. Moeller beat St. Xavier twice during the regular season. The Elks then eliminated the Crusaders, who were ranked No. 4 in the final state poll.
“It gives you the confidence you know you can play with anybody,” Monbeck said. “Even though we lost to Beavercreek the last game of the season, we now know with the results we have that if we are prepared and focused we can play with anybody in the state.”
Beavercreek, ranked No. 2 in the state, has the current winning streak in the series. But Monbeck also lets his team know Centerville leads the overall series 40-13-11.
“A lot of respect for their coaching staff and players. There’s no ill will against each other,” Monbeck said. “It’s absolutely a friendly rival. We’ve been going back and forth for years.
“I was privileged to host (Beavercreek’s) regional final game last year against Springboro. I had the honor of giving coach Guiliano the championship trophy and he talked about representing the GWOC. It would be nice to have a Dayton team play in the final four.”
Beavercreek, a team Monbeck called one of the fastest he’s ever seen, tied Sycamore and Columbus St. Charles during the regular season. St. Charles is the team that beat Beavercreek 2-1 in the state semifinals last season.
“This team set some goals at the beginning of the season and they’ve achieved two of them,” Guiliano said. “To win through the regional finals was another of their goals. We’re two wins from that. … It’s something we’ve been pushing since we started in July. The responsibilities of the guys are to make everyone around them better by pushing hard in practice. It shows up when you get on the field.”
In Division II regional semifinal games, Alter plays Cincinnati Wyoming at 7 p.m. at Lakota West High School. The other regional semi has Tippecanoe against Columbus Academy at 7 p.m. at Springfield High School.
In Division III, Dayton Christian plays Cincinnati Summit Country Day at 7 p.m. at Lakota West High