LUCASVILLE — An early Ironton St. Joe goal put host and first-place Valley at a 1-0 deficit less than 10 minutes into Thursday’s Southern Ohio Conference I match — but not for long.
Later in the first half, Valley senior Hunter Edwards placed a free-kick goal past St. Joe goalkeeper Evan Balestra to tie the game at 1-1 with 10:47 left in the half.
Edwards’ goal helped give the host Indians some needed momentum going into the locker room, and an avenue for victory.
With 11:12 to play in the match, Valley found its go-ahead goal off the foot of Colt Buckle — on an assist from Chase Powell.
The Indians’ defense held strong the final 11 minutes to secure the 2-1 win — and put Valley two games ahead of the Flyers in the SOC I standings.
“Both of them have been phenomenal all year, stepping up and being workhorses when we ask them to be,” Valley coach Jacob Perry said, after the game. “Coming into the year Colton hadn’t played offense. Since we brought him up after our offense was struggling, he’s scored one or two a week. Those two and the entire senior class together work hard no matter what. Productivity when we need it most.”
As Perry mentioned, his seniors in Edwards and Buckle have provided goal-scoring opportunities when they’ve been called on.
In fact, Edwards (nine) and Buckle (eight) have scored exactly half of their team’s 34 goals combined to this juncture.
Senior goalkeeper Christopher Queen had four saves during the victory — as he and the Valley backline defense pitched a shutout over the final 70-plus minutes — following Landon Rowe’s opening goal at the 9:25 mark of the first half.
“Christopher had a few fantastic saves. He had a rocky start to the year, but he’s really tuned it up as of late. Back four had some mistakes, but it’s soccer and those happen. Aiden Gray, Braxton Dillow when he came in, M.J. Basham, Jaekyn Ridout, and Christian Copeland have played phenomenal these last few games — couldn’t ask for much more,” Perry said, of his team’s defense.
With the win, Valley improves to 6-3-1 with three games remaining against SOC I opponents — Western, Clay and New Boston.
Two wins in the three games would give the Indians an outright league championship, while one more would guarantee at-least a split.
Valley is also preparing for non-league games against Ashland (Ky.) and Wheelersburg in the next week as preparation for the postseason.
“We still have some work, teams we can’t take lightly, fields that aren’t turf,” Perry said. “We have some big games with Ashland on Saturday and Wheelersburg next Thursday — some tune-up games for tournaments to see where we are against some pretty elite competition around here.”
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