Minford’s Gavin Downey (21), Ethan Cordle (22) and Troy Rhodes (26) celebrate a goal during the Falcons’ Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys soccer match at South Webster on Tuesday.
Ed Litteral | Daily Times
SOUTH WEBSTER — Simply put, on Tuesday, the Minford Falcons found themselves gassed, ill, a bit injured even, and especially impacted by the lower-90s temperatures at South Webster High School.
Still, the visiting Falcons managed to erase a 1-0 deficit — and junior standout striker Myles Montgomery mustered the go-ahead goal inside the final four minutes, as the Falcons remained undefeated by edging the Jeeps 3-2 in a key Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys soccer tilt.
With the win, which set the Falcons up for Tuesday night’s anticipated epic battle at league leader and fellow undefeated Wheelersburg (7-0-0, 3-0-0 SOC II), Minford moved to 7-0-1 — and to 3-0-1 in the SOC II.
The only blemish on Minford’s otherwise ideal index was the 1-1 league tie at West — two weeks ago on Thursday.
Minford and Wheelersburg shared the SOC II championship last season — as the rematch at Minford marks the regular-season finale.
The Jeeps, meanwhile, fell to 4-2 and 2-2 in the league with the loss — their second by a one-goal margin against the top two teams.
South Webster was ahead 1-0 at halftime on visiting Wheelersburg, but the Pirates rallied for a pair of second-half markers to escape with the 2-1 win.
That too was a hot afternoon in Jeep Country, but not as sweltering as what it felt in South Webster on Tuesday.
Minford third-year head coach Jacob Hackworth had nothing but high marks for his squad, battling other factors besides a good Jeep club.
“It’s a huge league win. The odds were against us going in. We battled illnesses with a lot of key guys in 92-degree, 94-degree heat,” said Hackworth. “Both teams were gassed and played extremely hard for 80 minutes. Both teams left it all out there, but I am really proud of the effort and resiliency that my guys had.”
The Falcons faced a 1-0 deficit, thanks to a Hunter Barnard penalty kick with 22-and-a-half first-half minutes remaining —after the Falcons fouled Carson Corriell inside the penalty box.
But Minford muscled for a pair of corner-kick counters nearly nine minutes apart — able to stake a 2-1 advantage at halftime.
With 15 minutes left, Ethan Cordle’s unassisted goal tied it at 1-1 — before Troy Rhodes registered the go-ahead goal only eight minutes and 49 seconds later.
This time, Montgomery made the assist — something he often does when he’s not scoring goals.
In fact, that was his 29th career helper, as he hit the hat trick in the Falcons’ 10-1 rout of Waverly — meaning he had 42 tallies entering Tuesday.
“It was a game of runs and Webster started off very strong and got that opening goal. But I really liked how our guys rallied together and finished the half with two to go up 2-1,” said Hackworth.
SWHS veteran head coach Corey Claxon mentioned Minford making an adjustment after the Jeeps got on the board — and his charges unable to clear the corner kicks.
The Falcons held a hefty 8-3 edge in that department.
“They made an adjustment in the midfield after that goal and the match evened up the rest of that half. They scored on two corner kicks that we didn’t clear,” said Claxon. “Winning the ball in the air is a very important part of the game and we got scored on twice because we failed to clear it out in the air.”
But the Jeeps got an equalizer only seven minutes into the second half — when Barnard assisted Corriell.
He found Corriell down the middle for a shot past Minford goalkeeper Kade Glockner, as Barnard with four shots and three on goal and Corriell with three shots and two on goal made up the majority of the Jeeps’ 16 shots — with nine on target.
South Webster’s Carson Corriell and Minford’s Sam Tieman (16) battle for possession of the ball during Tuesday’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys soccer match at South Webster High School.
Ed Litteral | Daily Times
Still, South Webster was deadlocked at 2-2.
“In the second half, I really thought we had the better chances to score. We kept the better half of possession as time went on, but they were quick to counter attack several times,” said Claxon. “We had the opportunities to win the game for sure in the second half, but we have to finish those opportunities and be stronger on defense.”
Hackworth concurred that “South Webster was the better team for the majority of the second half, but once again my guys were able to dig deep and get the late winner.”
That was from Montgomery for his 43rd career goal, who dribbled down the left side — and in Claxon’s words “took a shot that didn’t look very hard, but it somehow got past (SWHS goalkeeper) Aiden (McGraw).”
Minford’s Myles Montgomery (10) breaks through the South Webster defense during Tuesday’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys soccer match at South Webster High School.
Ed Litteral | Daily Times
Of the Falcons’ 17 shots with eight on goal, Montgomery garnered five and three — as McGraw made five saves compared to Glockner’s seven.
The Falcons did earn two yellow cards, but the Jeeps tripled them up in total fouls (9-3).
In Hackworth’s words, as he has stated after other matches, it’s typical life in boys soccer SOC II.
“Webster is the real deal and I am sure the next match with them will be just as exciting and another 80-minute battle,” he said.
Speaking of all 80 minutes, the Jeeps raised their records to 5-2-0 and 3-2-0 — with a last-second game-winning goal over visiting Northwest on Thursday.
That too was a 3-2 final, which went South Webster’s way.
But the Falcons’ win on Tuesday indeed set up the first of two massive encounters with Wheelersburg.
* * *
Minford 2 1 — 3
South Webster 1 1 — 2
SW — Hunter Barnard (penalty kick), 22:27, 1st (1-0 SW)
M —Ethan Cordle (unassisted), 15:00, 1st (1-1 tie)
M — Troy Rhodes (Myles Montgomery assist), 6:11, 1st (2-1 M)
SW — Carson Corriell (Hunter Barnard assist), 33:08, 2nd (2-2 tie)
M — Myles Montgomery (unassisted), 3:54, 2nd (3-2 M)
SHOTS — Minford 17, South Webster 16
SHOTS ON GOAL —Minford 8, South Webster 9
SAVES — Minford 7 (Kade Glockner), South Webster 5 (Aiden McGraw)
CORNER KICKS — Minford 8, South Webster 3
FOULS — Minford 3 (0 offsides), South Webster 9 (2 offsides)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on X @paulboggssports © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved