YELLOW SPRINGS — After charging out to a 3-1 halftime lead, the host Yellow Springs Bulldogs went into defensive mode in the second half, and it cost them.
No longer challenged on every pass and every drive, as they had been in the first half,Greenon got comfortable enough to rally to a 4-3 win, Tuesday Oct. 1 at Yellow Springs High School.
“I told the team before the game that, if we weren’t careful and if we didn’t play our best, Yellow was the kind of team that could hang a loss on us,” Greenon coach Jeff Nickels said. “Being down 3-1 at halftime, that was our focus. We hadn’t been on the ropes too many times this season, and so this was a situation where we had to kinda gut-check ourselves a little bit.
“… We adjusted our offense a bit, and felt that they might try to go more on the defensive in the second half — which they did — we just kept clawing and clawing and clawing until we knocked that last goal in.”
The Bulldogs (6-4-2) played aggressively in the first half, challenging every Knights pass and attacking any Greenon player who had possession of the ball. That strategy appeared to unnerve the Knights a bit, as Yellow Springs was able to surprise with a trio of first-half goals.
Junior halfback/forward Kayden Bryan scored all three Bulldogs goals.
First, he drove deep into the left side of the Greenon defense before firing a low-roller into the left corner of the goal with 14:56 left in the first half.
Just 44 seconds later, Bryan took a crossing pass from freshman Eli Eyrich and knocked the ball into the right side of the goal for a 2-0 Bulldogs lead.
Eyrich appeared to be tackled by a Knights defender within the penalty box with 6:32 left in the opening half, and Bryan made his shot into the right netting look easy for a three-goal lead.
With less than a second left in the half, Greenon’s Justin Paulus knocked a shot into the right side of the Yellow Springs goal to put the Knights on the scoreboard.
Bulldogs coach Ben VanAusdal said that late goal kinda changed the game’s momentum.
“I think we took that early lead, and I think we got a little too comfortable,” VanAusdal said. “I think it’s partially my fault. We went into a defensive mode, instead of staying in an attacking mode. I think I shouldn’t have done that.
“They were good team. When they scored that goal toward the end of the first half, I knew we were going to have a game in the second half.”
Greenon’s Masonn Hayslip might just be getting the feeling back in his leg today, after scoring the Knights’ second goal of the evening. A Yellow Springs defender hit a hard shot to clear the ball, but it hit Hayslip and ricocheted quickly back into the Bulldogs goal, to draw Greenon within one of the lead, with 14:36 left in the contest.
With just over two minutes remaining in the match, Greenon’s Will Spahr scored off a throw in from the right side.
Yellow Springs momentarily went on the attack, with Bryan driving down the right side. But Greenon quickly cleared the play and Spahr sped down the right side of the field to score what turned out to be the winning goal with 35.1 ticks left in the contest.
As the final seconds expired, Spahr was mobbed by his teammates on the field.
Greenon, the Ohio Heritage Conference’s leader with a 13-2-0 overall record and 6-0-0 in the OHC, has now won 10 straight matches. Prior to Tuesday’s rally over Yellow Springs, Greenon had outscored its opponents 53-3. The youthful Bulldogs doubled that opposing goal output on Tuesday, and nearly pulled off the win.
“We’ve got six freshmen who start for us, and so I’m really proud of how hard we played tonight,” Springs coach VanAusdal said. “I don’t think anyone would want to play us in the postseason.”
The Bulldogs’ next match will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4 at Franklin Monroe. They’ll then host Fairborn at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5.