JACKSON — Getting back to the Region 11 tournament has been a goal for the Minford boys soccer program for a calendar year now.
With Saturday’s 3-2 win over Northwest in the Jackson No. 2 district final, the Falcons are back among the final 16 teams competing for a Division III state championship.
“It’s was a big goal for us. I feel like where we’re at as a program, we want to compete for the league, win the district and move on,” Minford coach Jacob Hackworth said, following the win. “The next goal’s the regional, and still a little bit of sour taste in our mouth from last year. You’ve got to get there to have a chance.”
Minford never trailed in Saturday’s district final despite the Mohawks putting the pressure on in the second half.
Senior Charlie Neal found the back of the net twice in the first half for the Falcons — first on a corner kick assist by Myles Montgomery and then a goal via throw-in assist by Adam Crank shortly after.
Minford carried their 2-0 edge for the final 29:59 of the first half.
“Charlie’s been an animal for us. Really put the work in in the offseason, added the muscle,” Hackworth said. “6’3, 6’4 height so he’s a monster in the air, a matchup nightmare. You pair that with the others we’ve got, the good service from Myles and good throw from Adam, that’s how we thought we’d score this year. That’s how we thought we’d score this year, definitely looking to take advantage of that.”
Northwest got on the board quickly in the second half when junior Caleb Lewis found the back of the net on a free kick attempt, cutting Minford’s lead to 2-1 with 34:10 to play in regulation.
The Falcons answered and extended their lead back to two goals when junior Troy Rhodes finished a passed by Gavin Downey into the Northwest net with 30:58 to play.
Senior Gavin Lute-Defoe pulled his Mohawks with one again with his goal with 5:09 left on an assist by Jay Jenkins.
Minford held on for the final five minutes, securing their second-straight district championship and spot in the Region 11 semis.
“Gavin Downey right place, hustle play. We preach that all the time,” Hackworth said. “Troy Rhodes actually got the game-winner on the same play at Northwest. He’s stepped up in some big spots — super proud of those two.”
In the Region 11 semis, Minford will face county and SOC II rival Wheelersburg for the third time. Both programs were district champions a season ago, but saw their seasons end at the round of 16 stage.
This year, at least one will advance to be among the final eight teams in the Division III postseason tournament.
During their regular season matchups, the Falcons and Pirates tied 4-4 on Sept. 13 and Minford won a 2-1 tight game at ‘Burg in both teams season finale.
First touch between the Pirates and Falcons is set for 6 p.m. at Chillicothe’s Herrnstein Field.
“Little different this year since we get to play someone from our conference. There’s all the film you want, you can throw it out the door. We know each other — we know we they like to they and they know what we like to do. It’s going to be one of those knock-down, drag out fights,” Hackworth said. “Whoever goes on we’re going to support them and hope they’d support us. Hopefully we can get a regional champ out of this district — we don’t get any respect from the Central, and from the state for that matter. I know it’ll be a tough game, super happy to be there and hopefully we come out on top.”
Northwest 0 2 — 2
Minford 2 1 — 3
M – 33:11 Charlie Neal (Assist on corner Kick by Myles Montgomery)
M – 29:59 Charlie Neal (Assist on throw in by Adam Crank)
N – 34:10 Caleb Lewis (unassisted – free kick)
M – 30:58 Troy Rhodes (Assist by Gavin Downey)
N – 5:09 Gavin Lute-Defoe (Assist by Jay Jenkins)
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