McDERMOTT — Avoiding defeat is something the Northwest Mohawks have managed fairly well during the course of this season.
The problem remains, however, that some of those opportunities have come at the cost of avoiding victories, too.
For the fifth time in its 14th regular-season contest, the Mohawks boys soccer team earned a draw result — in a 0-0 tie with Waverly at Roy Rogers Field on Tuesday.
Four of those five ties have come during Southern Ohio Conference Division II play, as was the case in Tuesday’s match.
In fact, seven of Northwest’s non-win results have been decided by one goal or fewer.
As a team this season, the Mohawks’ defense has no doubt been their catalyst, allowing just 14 goals scored by opposing teams.
Six of those scores came during their most recent loss — a 6-1 defeat at the hands of unbeaten league foe Wheelersburg.
Although Northwest was unable to capitalize on any of its goal-scoring chances in Tuesday’s result with Waverly, its record adjusted to 6-3-5 — with just one regular-season contest remaining.
“We controlled the ball so well, and we got to the final third and just couldn’t put that final pass or that last shot together,” Northwest coach Josh Keeney said, following the game. “So many chances around the ‘18’ and nothing to show for it. Seven of our games have been decided by one goal or fewer. It’s nice to be in games, but you like to win.”
In its draw, Northwest attempted 11 shots — nine of which were directed at the Waverly goalkeeper.
The Tigers themselves attempted six shots, two of which were on-target toward the Northwest goal.
The Mohawks and Tigers, in fact, drew in their matchup earlier this season — a 1-1 tie at Raidiger Field in downtown Waverly.
While the result of Tuesday’s contest would have preferably been a win, Keeney said the experience his team — featuring a starting lineup of over half-underclassmen — is gaining by playing in close games is a net-positive.
“We’re not a high-powered offense, obviously our defense is our strength,” Keeney said. “We’ve held every team we’ve faced this year to two goals or less, kind of let up the last time we played Wheelersburg — but they’re playing at a high level right now. Starting four freshmen, three sophomores, these kids are getting a lot of experience in tough games. It’s going to be huge for their future and going into tournaments it’s going to help us.”
In the Southeast District Division III district tournament brackets, which were released on Sunday, Northwest was seeded as the No. 8 team in the Southeast No. 1 bracket.
In its opening postseason game, Northwest will host the winner of No. 9 seed Valley and No. 24 Wellston in a sectional championship match — set for next Wednesday (Oct. 21) at 5 p.m.
A win for Northwest will advance the Mohawks back to the district stage for the first time since 2017 — when they captured their most recent district championship with a 6-1 win over North Adams.
With their ability to compete in close games and strong defensive performances, Keeney believes his team can compete with anyone in their run to a potential district championship.
Now comes the challenge of just putting it all together.
“Everyone wants to make it back to that district final game, can’t really be satisfied unless you make it to that district final game in my book,” Keeney said. “We’ve got a tough road, we may have to see Valley and if we get by them, we’ll see ‘Burg for a third time and I think we can play with them, but it’s going to be an uphill battle.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved