Eastern Brown Warriors
Derrick Webb

Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

STATE SOCCER PREVIEW: Eastern readying for Waynesville in DIII state semifinal

Eastern Brown will meet with Waynesville in a Division III state semifinal at 7 p.m., Tuesday.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

SARDINIA — For the first time in school history, Eastern Brown will be making a Final 4 appearance.

Coach Dan Silvis’ group earned that right with a 3-2 win over Fairbanks this past Saturday after using a balanced offensive attack and stout defensive efforts to advance through sectional, district and regional play.

The Warriors (16-1-2) will now meet Waynesville (15-6) in a Division III state semifinal at 7 p.m., Tuesday at Chillicothe’s Herrnstein Field.

Here’s everything you need to know before that matchup happens: 

Fast facts …

While Eastern will be playing in its first-ever Final 4, Waynesville will be playing in its second. The Spartans’ first state tournament run happened in 2002, when they lost in the semifinal by a 2-1 final in overtime to Cincinnati Wyoming. In its tournament run, Waynesville has outscored its opponents by a 24-0 margin — topping Tri-County North (8-0), Botkins (9-0), Anna (5-0), Cincinnati Country Day (1-0) and Mariemont (1-0). The Spartans have scored 83 goals this fall while allowing 18. 13 of Waynesville’s 15 wins this season have been shutouts. Before this season, Eastern had never won a district title. The Warriors have scored 79 times this season and are outscoring tournament opponents — who had a combined record of 58-31-6 — by a 22-3 margin.

Eastern Brown’s Mary Litzinger scored four goals in regional tournament action to lead her Warriors to 2-0 and 3-2 wins.

Four names to know …

Eastern has many roster members that are keen on finding the back of the net. But lately, Mary Litzinger headlines that list. The SHAC Player of the Year scored four of the team’s five goals in regional tournament play and has 19 scores on the year, alongside a team-high 23 assists. Meanwhile, Litzinger’s teammate Rylee Leonard has been electric per usual with 21 goals and 10 assists this season. You’ll rarely find a defender that can run with Leonard for 80 consecutive minutes. As for Waynesville, Samantha Erbach is responsible for leading the Spartans to a 1-0 win over Mariemont after scoring the team’s lone goal. Erbach has been a force at the front of Waynesville’s attack, with 35 goals this season, and will look to continue to play that role. If Eastern is to score, they’ll have to beat keeper Gracyn Armstrong — which is much easier said than done. Thanks to Armstrong, the Spartans have posted a 0.85 goal per game average.

Potential X-factors …

Somehow, someway, Eastern senior Bailey Dotson always leaves her fingerprints on every game she plays. Right time, right place? Count Dotson in. She’s been a huge, and sometimes quietly, part of the Warriors’ success all season long. The Spartans will also have to account for Torie Utter, who’s scored 17 goals and five assists this fall. Utter is more than capable of taking over a game by herself. In goal for the Warriors is junior Alyssa Perkins, who has been rock-solid for quite some time. Perkins may not dominate headlines but watch her play and you’ll quickly learn how talented she is. Sometimes, she is the difference. Waynesville’s pair of Emme Greely and Laine Kuhns are also two names that could play the deciding role in any game they’re a part of. Both have scored during tournament play and both could absolutely score again if the Warriors aren’t careful. Then, there’s Emma Whitaker, who’s given the Spartans 15 goals and nine assists this fall. Eastern will also have to account for her at all times.

What Eastern needs to do to win …

The Warriors have used a simple recipe to win all year long — play to feet, possess the ball and score when given the chance to do so. If they play to their potential, they can advance. McKinzie Dotson, Emma Prine, Skylar Gould and a host of others have managed to keep opponents at bay all year long. That game plan shouldn’t change on Tuesday. A healthy mix of Litzinger and Leonard up top, combined with a strong defensive effort led by Perkins in goal, has led to 16 wins already. There’s no reason to think a 17th couldn’t be in order.

What Waynesville needs to do to win …

Waynesville has faced top-notch competition all year long. The Spartans’ six losses have been at the hands of teams with a combined record of 70-26-12. What’s our point? They need to treat this contest like any other game. The Spartans have faced a ton of talent over the course of the year and haven’t once folded under pressure. They’ve played with some of the top teams in the state and they’re used to the limelight. If Waynesville plays with no pressure attached and focuses on itself, the Spartans may be headed towards their first-ever state final game.

SOSA will have full coverage from Eastern’s state tournament appearance on Tuesday. You can follow live in-game updates at both @dw1509 and @SOSAOhio.

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