Columbus, Ohio – On Friday, 11/10, Loveland High School soccer competed for the Division I state title at the Columbus MAPFRE stadium. The team bested Perrysburg High School 1-0, earning Loveland the OHSAA state championship. Junior Brooke Harden scored the winning goal with 21:20 remaining in the first half. The two teams battled for the next hour but failed to score again.
Loveland competed in the state championship in 2015 and fell to Walsh Jesuit. The freshman and sophomore players– now juniors and seniors– made it their mission to come back and claim the title. Players wrote messages about “The Mission” over car windows and fans held signs. The team was sent off to Columbus Thursday evening with a performance from the Loveland Marching Band, a police and fire escort out of the City, and a crowd gathered on a Loveland street corner to wave and cheer to the busses. At MAPFRE stadium, the home of the Columbus Crew, Loveland bolstered a packed stadium section of enthusiastic black-and-orange spectators with face paint and noisemakers.
Watch Loveland defeat Perrysburg and claim the state title:
For around an hour, Perrysburg fought without avail to take away the one-point lead Loveland held. Perrysburg attempted to score several times (notably within the last minute) but goalie and senior Lauren Parker consistently deflected and guarded the goal. Parker earned her 50th career shutout. She will play for the Miami Redhawks next year.
“I can’t even put it into words. We’ve had this goal since we lost two years ago and we just did it. That’s all I can say,” Parker told Loveland Magazine in a post-game interview.
Southwest Ohio has formed a women’s soccer dynasty of sorts, claiming all the division state titles this year. Indian Hill took home division III, Summit Country Day Division II and Loveland Division I. Summit Country Day also won Divison III men’s soccer.
As the game neared an end, the stands turned to bedlam and rowdy excitement. Fans jumped, screamed, and cheered as it became clear that Loveland would take home the State Champion trophy.
When the clock hit zero, the team burst into emotion and ecstatic tears. Coaches and players embraced, jumped and screamed. A sign stating “The Mission Is Complete” appeared in the hands of players, while parents and friends embraced over the fence.
“It feels like we broke through a limit that was set two years ago”
“It feels like we broke through a limit that was set two years ago when we came in second. It felt like we finally accomplished the goal we had been working so hard for every year,” said Senior Colleen “Jelly” Swift.
Loveland paid their respects to the state runner-up while Perrysburg accepted their trophy and medals. Loveland players encouraged each other to clap for each opposing player and congratulate them on their success.
“As a coach, I am so proud of these kids and this program, but I am equally proud to have coached so many amazing young ladies. I am exceptionally of the fine young women they have turned out to be. The love and support that our alumni have shown through the years have been off the charts, as has Tiger Nation. Thanks to the Loveland community, alumni and administration… this one’s for you,” head coach Todd Kelly said in an official release.
A teary-eyed Julie Rener (athletic director) handed state champion medals to euphoric players and coaches. Teammates hugged and cried into each other’s shoulders in excited shock. Parents screamed and fans hollered. There was hardly a dry eye on the loveland side of the MAPFRE field.
“We became a family this season because we wanted to play for the player standing next to us and we did not want to let them down”
“I still can’t believe we just won state. It’s like it hasn’t processed into my brain yet because it’s just so amazing and unbelievable… We became a family this season because we wanted to play for the player standing next to us and we did not want to let them down. Also, I️ think our little saying, “Humble and Hungry”, played a big role in every one of us through our mission. Everyone used that to their own abilities which made us unstoppable,” Brooke Harden told Loveland Magazine.
“You were not only humble but hungry all the time. It’s amazing, two years later, what you can accomplish if you stay focused,” OHSAA Director of Sports Management, Jerry Snodgrass told Loveland seniors after calling them forward.
“It’s hard to believe that the mission is over. The last four years with Loveland Soccer has been a blessing to me. The girls, the coaches, and the support from the community is more than I could’ve ever asked for. This state championship has been in the making for many years. All of the alumni who taught each of us what Loveland soccer is about are the ones who made last night possible. I’m proud to be part of something so special,” said Sarah Harter after the game.
Loveland ended their season 22-1 win-loss. Colleen Swift was named the ECC women’s soccer athlete of the year and Todd Kelly coach of the year. Brice Grieshop, Brooke Harden, Riley Massey, Lauren Parker and Colleen Swift were named First Team ECC all-conference selections. Colleen Swift and Lauren Parker have been named to the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association Division I First Team.
Loveland Magazine extends its thanks and congratulations to the 2017 Loveland Varsity women’s soccer team. We would like to offer special thanks to Head Coach Todd Kelly, Athletic Director Julie Renner, Lauren Parker and everyone who has offered their time for interviews and photos. Great job, team — it’s been a pleasure reporting on your incredible journey to a State Championship.
-Writer/photographer Sam Smith and publisher David Miller
Thank you Jarvis Global Investments and Art Jarvis for supporting and making it possible for Loveland Magazine to cover Loveland Sports.
Jarvis Global is an investment advisory firm in Symmes Township, Ohio which offers private portfolio management and retirement services to high net worth individuals.