MANSFIELD — The boys soccer program has made frequent visits to the district final — and beyond — but for the Mansfield Christian girls, this is largely uncharted territory.
The third-seeded Flames (11-6-1) will make their first district finals appearance since 2008 when they take on top-seeded Findlay Liberty-Benton at 3 p.m. Saturday at Findlay High School. MCS made back-to-back district finals appearances in 2007 and 2008, when there were only two divisions in girls soccer, falling to Liberty-Benton both years.
The Mansfield Christian boys program won eight straight district titles from 2010 to 2017, making four Final Four appearances and winning Richland County’s only soccer state championship in 2014 during the unprecedented streak.
“We are one of very few girls teams to make it this far at Mansfield Christian,” senior midfielder Olivia Bekeleski said after the Flames upset Crestview 2-1 in Tuesday’s district semifinal match in Ashland, avenging a pair of regular season losses to the Cougars. “The boys teams seems to go this far every year. For us to do this is amazing.”
Bekeleski scored the game-tying goal midway through the second half Tuesday. Freshman Abby Little scored what proved to be the game-winner with 3:39 remaining, her fourth goal in two career postseason games.
“It means a lot,” Little said afterward. “I feel like this win will open a lot of doors to my team and all the success is because of them.”
Bekeleski and Little have combined for 38 goals this season. Anna Sparks had a team-high six assists to go with five goals.
Liberty-Benton (16-1-1) has outscored its two tournament opponents by a combined score of 12-0. The Eagles have surrendered just eight goals all season and have 11 shutouts.
The significance of playing in a district championship game wasn’t lost on MCS coach Ariel Dials.
“It is so great to be able to play for a district championship,” Dials said. “I know we will be ready and excited.”