SOUTH WEBSTER — The Minford boys soccer team entered Tuesday’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II contest versus South Webster needing a win to remain in contention for the SOC II title.
The Falcons escaped Jeep Country with a 1-0 victory — thanks to a shutout defensive performance and senior Luke Oakes’ go-ahead goal with 10:50 remaining in the game.
Minford’s win gives them a season-split with South Webster, after the Jeeps secured a 1-0 early-season win between the two on Sept. 6.
“Kind of a redemption game, they got us at home early, so we wanted it. So proud of my team’s effort, heart, and grit we showed. Big win for us,” Minford coach Jacob Hackworth said, after the game. “They’re well coached and play hard — any time you win at Webster, it’s a big win.”
Both teams played to a 0-0 draw at halftime, and if the Falcons were going to come out on top, they’d need to do so playing a man down.
With roughly 13 minutes left in the first half, a Minford player was sidelined for the rest of the game with a red card.
Hackworth detailed the Falcons’ approach to playing a man down — by saying their plan was to keep up their aggressive play-style in search of a win.
“Went down a man and you have a couple of decisions. You can go down a striker or go down a midfielder. We chose a midfielder and tried to keep as much pressure on as we could,” Hackworth said. “With the league implications, a tie did us no good. It was win or lose, kept pressing.”
“We knew Minford was going to come into this game with a lot of energy since this was a must-win for them in the conference, but I thought we played evenly in the first half. I thought Tyler Sommer did his job on defense by staying with (Myles) Montgomery while Will, Josiah and Jeremiah were solid covering the rest of the guys,” SW coach Corey Claxon said. “Minford went down a man in the first half with a double yellow card and that really played to our advantage, but it still wasn’t enough for us to get on the board.”
With 10:50 in the second half, and the game still at a 0-0 standstill, Minford sophomore Myles Montgomery attempted a throw-in from near the corner post.
Montgomery’s throw found the head of Oakes, who broke the scoreless tie with his go-ahead goal past SW goalkeeper Jaren Lower.
Lower made 10 saves on 11 Minford shots on goal in the contest, and drew the praise of both coaches for keeping the Jeeps in the game.
Minford senior goalkeeper Cole Borland had four saves on each of the Jeeps’ four shots on goal.
“Had Myles take a lot of our throws after Adam Crank got stepped on. Credit to Luke Oakes, he’s a senior. So happy for him,” Hackworth said. “He’s 6’5”, not many guys who can mark him. Jaren Lower made three or four phenomenal saves — great keeper and a really good kid too.”
“In the second half, I just have to give credit to Minford. They played with a lot of heart and made it happen. We let them have too many opportunities and ultimately it was off a throw-in that they scored with 10 minutes left,” Claxon said. “Throughout the half, Jaren had some good saves to hold them off, but he could only do so much. We had our chances on offense too, but they had more and obviously made more of it.”
With the win, Minford improves to 11-1-1, while the Jeeps fall to 7-5-2.
The Falcons will need a win at Wheelersburg — on Thursday, Oct. 13 — to at-least force a tie atop the Southern Ohio Conference Division II standings.
Prior to its meeting with the Pirates, Minford will travel to Athens and host Jackson in non-league play.
“Athens on Thursday, they beat us 2-1 last year and I think we can play with them again. That’s exactly what we want before tournaments, playing the tougher teams,” Hackworth said. “We’ve got Jackson and Wheelersburg to finish next week, four phenomenal teams so I think our guys will be ready to make a deep run.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved