OTR has been the mantra of the Ensworth girls soccer team.
The Lady Tigers will be shouting the letters, which stand for “on the rise” next week after they defeated Harpeth Hall 4-1 Saturday to clinch a spot in Friday’s TSSAA Division II-AA state semifinals.
“OTR is not peaking at the beginning but hopefully peaking at the state championship,” defender Anne Grace Cox said. “It’s (striving to) keep climbing to the end.”
The Lady Tiger program clinched a spot in the state semifinals for the second straight season despite losing nine seniors — including seven starters — from last season. Ensworth has never played in a girls soccer state championship game.
“We are building from a big loss, so we’re on the rise,” midfielder Hailey Braemer said. “We had a deep bench last year, and we were able to practice with strong seniors. It built the team depth.”
On Saturday, Braemer scored the first two goals for Ensworth (11-3-3), the No. 2 seed from the Division II-AA East/Middle Region. No. 4 seed Harpeth Hall (6-5-3) suffered a 1-0 loss at Ensworth on Sept. 29.
Katy Stumb’s goal for Harpeth Hall in the 31st minute created a 1-1 tie at halftime, but Braemer, Ellie Faber and Olivia Rose all produced second-half conversions.
“The girls have worked together,” Ensworth third-year coach Danny Wright said. “All the credit goes to them. They play for each other.”
Cox is a three-year starter and one of seven seniors who will lead the team against Briarcrest Christian in Friday’s semifinal round at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro. The Lady Tigers, who had a 16-day layoff prior to Saturday’s match, lost 1-0 to Baylor in last year’s semifinals.
“We’ve had this in the back of our minds,” Braemer said. “It feels great. We’ve worked so hard since August.”
Reach Craig Harris at 615-259-8238 and on Twitter @CHTennessean.