PDT Sports Contributor
The Clay Panthers defeated the Ironton St. Joe Flyers 5-3 Tuesday night at Clay High School, ending the postseason hopes of the Flyers. Picking up their first home sectional round win since 2002, the Panthers will continue their postseason journey thanks to the win over the Flyers.
The Panthers and Flyers traded leads three different times throughout the game, keeping fans in attendance on the edge of their seats anticipating the next score.
“First and foremost, I can say that Aaron Keyser played an absolute fantastic game,” said Clay Head Soccer Coach, Mark Trapp.
The Panther senior finished the night with two goals and an assist helping his team defeat the Flyers.
Keyser was joined by fellow senior Tyler Knittel with a pair of goals in the match. “He played exceptionally well up top,” said Trapp.
Trapp was thrilled with the defensive play of his team Tuesday night. “Probably the defensive play of the game was when Jordan Collier came out here and just absolutely cleared it (the ball) out,” said Trapp. “They had three people wide open, and that’s when it was 5-3.”
“I was very proud of their effort, tonight was just a total team effort,” said Trapp. “That’s a cliché, but it really was, this team really came together well tonight.”
The Flyers struck first against the Panthers, scoring a goal in the first five minutes of the first half.
Ironton St. Joe’s lead would not last long however, as Clay would battle back several minutes later, and tie the match at 1-1.
Shortly after scoring their first goal and tying the game, the Panthers struck again and took a 2-1 lead over the Flyers.
The match’s momentum had fully shifted towards the Panthers, who would then score a third consecutive goal, and gaining a two goal lead over the Flyers.
Ironton St. Joe refused to quit however, and took advantage of some key matchups against a substituting freshman Panther goalkeeper. The Flyers would return the favor from the Panthers, as they put the ball in the back of the net two more times before the end of the half, knotting the game up with a 3-3 tie at the end of the first half.
The second half showed a sense of desperation on both teams, who came out with a much quicker pace than they had in the first half.
The quick play kept the ball moving back and forth between the two teams, with neither getting many shots on goal in the second half.
However, the Panthers would take advantage of a few of their scoring opportunities and score two goals in the second half of the game off two well placed shots.
The Flyers were unable to recover from the two goal deficit, and were met with some excellent goalkeeping by the Panthers.
As the sky grew darker and remaining time ticking away, the Flyers just simply couldn’t make the needed comeback to continue their season, as they were defeated 5-3 at full time.
The Panthers will travel to Wheelersburg on Wednesday evening to face the Pirates in a sectional final. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Wheelersburg.