LUCASVILLE — Sometimes, often times actually, all it takes is only one.
For the Valley Indians, in their opinion, all it took to get the proverbial ball rolling on Tuesday was one blast into the back of the net.
Austin Sommers, the senior standout forward, finally provided that with two minutes to play in the first half —which opened the second-half floodgates, and kick-started the Indians’ 5-0 shutout victory over the Northwest Mohawks in a Division III boys soccer district semifinal on The Reservation.
That’s because, from there, the Indians amassed the final four goals over the opening 35-and-a-half minutes of that second half —with Sommers scoring again, then Hunter Edwards, and finally Chase Ruby recording two goals with the final occurring with 4:37 remaining.
In the end, Valley converted on five of its 11 shots on goal — as Bryce Stuart with two assists and one apiece from Sommers, Edwards and Davey Petry put the match well out of reach of the defensive-oriented Mohawks, which also lost against the Indians in the Division III sectional championship bout last year.
With Valley’s victory, the Indians raised their stellar record to 16-1-1 — with their only loss occurring at Southern Ohio Conference Division II champion and 17-1-0 Minford on Sept. 20.
The Indians and Falcons, should they rematch, would do so in the regional championship bout — but that’s a long way’s off, or at least won’t be until another week.
Valley actually gets one rematch on two fronts first — with Wheelersburg on Saturday for the Division III district championship.
The Indians are the second-seeded squad in the Southeast District Division III bracket, while Wheelersburg —a 4-1 winner over Zane Trace on Tuesday in another district semifinal —is the third seed.
Valley, with a decisive 3-0 shutout of the visiting Pirates in September, snapped Wheelersburg’s 27-match regular-season win streak that day.
However, the Pirates are the defending Division III Region 11 champions —having knocked the Indians out in last season’s district semifinals with a late-game goal (1-0).
And, that match was at Wheelersburg’s Ed Miller Stadium, while the Pirates perhaps have home field advantage again on Saturday —with Waverly’s rave Raidiger Field serving as the host site.
The Pirates play at Waverly with both schools being members of the SOC II, while this particular Valley unit hasn’t played there in two years.
Although, early on Tuesday, with a 1-0 halftime lead, it was a first-half struggle for the experienced Indians —as Northwest was the 10th seed and only sporting three seniors on the pitch.
Finally, Sommers’ goal got things going.
“The first half, we just weren’t playing our game. We worked all last week and yesterday (Monday) at practice of trying to move the ball and keep the ball more than they had it. First half, that wasn’t happening. We were chasing the ball, working too hard, playing kickball. The focus for the second half was to come out and control the pace of the game. Our game is not run-and-gun like some teams’ is. We prefer to play more controlled. We came out and looked to swing the ball and switch the ball and get advantages and numbers on Northwest with that,” said Valley first-year coach Jacob Perry. “Eventually, that paid off with four goals in the second half. That first half we were waiting for something to happen. Like a basketball player making that first foul shot. Seeing that ball hit the back of the net, now we could build and use that momentum to try and fuel us. That goal just gave us that energy which were searching for and trying to play with. Everything finally fell into line.”
For the Mohawks, they had the match going the way they wanted—until Sommers scored, one of his three shots on goal.
“We gave Sommers a little too much room there towards the end of the half, and when he gets room…that was a big momentum shift,” said Northwest coach Josh Keeney. “All the momentum was going our way, but that flipped the switch right there. We were the underdog and had nothing to lose, but when you lose momentum like that to a team like Valley with such a strong offense, it makes it tough.”
The Mohawks, preparing to hunker down and defend the Indians, had two just shots on goal —which were both stopped by Chris Queen.
Keeney believed all it would have taken was one goal for his Mohawks to hold up, but that marker never came.
“We had at least two good one-on-one chances to go up 1-0 early, and I told the kids it would be hard to beat us if we got up 1-0,” said the coach. “But man, we just never got that ball to fall. The difference was Valley finished their chances and we didn’t. That’s part of it.”
That was most of it for Valley in final 42 minutes.
Both clubs also recorded two corner kicks.
Ruby converted both of his scoring chances, as did Edwards on his only attempt — in his fourth match back from a broken collarbone suffered two months ago in the Indians’ football game against Northwest.
“Hunter coming back the last two weeks has been huge for us,” said Perry. “He has been working day-in and day-out trying to get to where he was before.”
Ruby, who missed two weeks with an injured ankle, is the Indians’ football placekicker.
“The way Chase has come back, to get two goals from him tonight is huge for us and huge for him going forward,” said Perry.
Ethan Cunningham, late in the fray, found two shots on goal —as Petry, J.R. Holbrook and Lucie Ashklettle added one shot each in the first half.
For the Mohawks, they end the season at 10-8-1 —and bid goodbye to seniors Kailan Marshall, Evan Amburgey, Levi Tackett and goalkeeper Kaleb Seals.
“It’s going to hurt us losing those seniors, but we’re really young and our best class is this sophomore class. I’m excited for next year,” said Keeney. “Looking forward to competing the next few years for sure.”
Meanwhile, the Indians advance on —and to their own “rematch” with Wheelersburg.
First touch is set for 2:30 p.m. in Waverly.
“They’ve (Pirates) definitely gotten better since the first time we played them. They play their best soccer late in October and early November. I expect them to be a much different team than from the first time we played them,” said Perry. “It’s hard to beat a team twice, and they have played at Waverly while we haven’t, but we’re looking forward to this rematch. It’s great for our guys to get to play a high-intensity game against such a great program. We believe we have a lot of soccer left to play, a lot of opportunities in front of us. Definitely excited and up for the challenge, and ready for a good fight on Saturday.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved