LIBERTY TWP. — Even after a heartbreaking defeat, Katie Singleton was all smiles Tuesday night. The Badin High School senior knew she left it all out on the field with her fellow teammates.
Singleton notched the Rams’ lone goal that tied things up late in the first half before No. 2 state-ranked Summit Country Day scored twice in the final 40 minutes to knock off Badin 3-1 in a chilly Division II regional semifinal at Lakota East.
“I’m happy. I’m doing OK,” Singleton said while embracing her father Marc Singleton on the sideline moments after the game ended.
Singleton was all right because her and the Rams completed a 14-4-3 season and bounced back from a 1-3-1 start to go on a 15-game unbeaten streak — which included seven straight wins.
“This one is going to be hard to think about,” Badin second-year coach Chris Slusher said. “People think that we started off slow, but we really didn’t. We had a really tough schedule early on. Things didn’t go our way early on. We were handed some 1-0 losses, but were playing pretty well.
“Sept. 11, we didn’t look back. I didn’t think we were ever going to look back. Sometimes the stars aren’t aligned.”
The Rams opened the season up against Summit Country Day and lost 1-0 on a Carolyn Federle goal. Badin fell to East Central 1-0, tied Mercy McAuley 3-3, beat Fairfield 2-0 and then lost at Alter 2-0.
On Monday, Sept. 11, the Rams snuck by CHCA 2-1 and didn’t lose leading up to Tuesday.
“I just feel bad for this group because they’re a special group,” Slusher said. “I think throughout the season, we played a really good brand of soccer. Tonight, we had great energy — had a lot of fight — but things didn’t go our way, unfortunately. It’s just a shame that we’re ending at this moment in time. But this was a special group and phenomenal kids. The coaching staff was amazing, and that’s really all I can say.”
Bella Desmond put the Knights on top within the first three minutes, and Singleton tied it up with her goal at the 12:16 mark of the first half.
Federle scored right out of the second-half gate to give Summit a 2-1 lead with 38:24 remaining. Cameron Lorentz sealed it with a goal with 13:01 to go.
“It didn’t go how we planned it,” Slusher said. “But I’m very proud of this group. Tonight, for some reason, we were constantly chasing early on in the game. They scored and opened up with early goals. Then we got caught trying to chase the game instead of settling in.”
Badin had its chances in the second half with one-on-one situations, but Knights goalkeeper Maddie Mescher stood her ground on a couple impressive saves.
“This is a tough pill to swallow,” Slusher said. “I just feel so bad for these girls. We have a great senior class, and they’re going to go on and do phenomenal things. We still have some players who are looking to play at the next level. I know that things will work out for them as well. They’re going to have a nice future ahead of them. And obviously we have a good group coming back. Next year’s exciting.”
Tuesday marked the fourth straight tournament game for Badin against a team it played in the regular season. Slusher became the seventh Badin girls soccer coach to earn a district championship.
With last week’s 2-1 victory over Mercy McAuley, Badin secured its 18th district championship in 24 appearances in the title game since 1995.
Senior Morgan Creech led the Rams with 15 goals on the season. Sophomore Braelyn Even had 10 goals and 14 assists. Senior Emma Rhodis and junior Abby Mathews combined for nine goals and 19 assists.
Badin graduates seven seniors, including Ava Hess, Paige Harris, Elsie Hamersky, Madison Zorb, Singleton, Creech and Rhodis.
Singleton (Bluffton) and Hess (Southern Indiana) are heading to play at the next level. Slusher said some of the other seniors will likely play college soccer as well.
Summit (17-1-3) moves on to face Waynesville this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Bellbrook.