By John Bombatch
LIBERTY TOWNSHIP — Despite a first half that often saw Beavercreek (17-1-1) on the defensive, the Beavers got a pair of second-half goals to claim the Division I district final win over Cincinnati St. Xavier, Thursday at Lakota East High School.
Beavers coach John Guiliano said the second-half fortunes may have been more out of necessity than any sort of strategy change.
“A couple injuries hurt us — we lost Caleb (co-captain Caleb Austin) with an ACL injury, and we had a couple yellow cards,” Guiliano explained. “So we had to go a little bit deeper off our bench. The kids that came in did a helluva job for us.
“DeWine (senior forward Evan DeWine) scored that second goal for us. He didn’t even play in the first half. These guys know their roles, and they came out and did it. We have a couple days to get healthy, and then we’ll see what we’re gonna do.”
Guiliano said he saw that St. X’s back line was a little bit slow going after the ball. He said Dominic Calabrese and Ryan Bernt did a nice job of seeing that weakness and playing ball up over the top of the Bombers’ defense in the second half.
It paid off for Bernt roughly two minutes into the second half. The junior forward took a long pass from Blaine Fourman, then one-timed a shot high into the St. Xavier goal to give Beavercreek a 1-0 lead.
Then with 20:50 left in the match, DeWine took a pass from Calabrese, and got off a touch shot from the left side that went to the back post for the Beavers’ second goal.
St. X (11-6-2) had won seven of their last 10 matches, with two of those being ties. Despite the loss, Bombers coach Brian Schaeper liked his team’s effort.
“It was exciting coming into this one, knowing that it was two good teams, and I think the game delivered exactly what was expected,” he said. “I thought it was a rather evenly played game. Beavercreek capitalized on their opportunities obviously a little bit better than we did, but it was a quality soccer game.”
Schaeper credited his eight seniors for a great season. St. X finished as Greater Catholic League South runner up this season, behind Cincinnati La Salle.
The scoreless first half appeared to be almost a chess match, with both teams mounting offensive attacks that were countered well by the opposing defense.
While St. X played the majority of the first half in Beavercreek territory, neither team could mount a serious scoring threat.
Whenever Beavercreek did go on the offensive, there was usually at least seven Bombers back to defend.
Beavercreek will next face Mason, a 1-0 winner Thursday night over Centerville, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2 at Monroe High School. According to Guiliano, Beavercreek has never played Mason.
“We just have to rest up and get at ‘em,” the coach said. “It should be a good one.”