BELLBROOK — The message from head coach TJ Milby before the match to his team was simple. He wanted to let them know they belonged.
The Rams went out and proved him right. Unfortunately the scoreboard didn’t reflect their play.
Greeneview got the best of the chances, but its season ended in a 1-0 loss to Mariemont in the Division III district finals on Thursday at Bellbrook HS.
“That was two good teams playing,” Milby said. “Evenly matched teams going back and forth. I’m so proud of their effort.”
The Rams, seeded No. 11, were playing in its first district finals since 2015 after going on a run of 11 wins in its last 13 matches. No. 1 Mariemont’s victory was its fourth straight district title achieved.
Mariemont grabbed the lead off a headed ball coming from a free kick right of the net.
Despite both teams getting off three shots in the first half, Greeneview applied the most pressure and twice were awarded free kicks on fouls no more than a foot outside of the 18-yard box. Both resulted in near misses.
Andrew Hurley nearly made the most of a third chance with 28 minutes remaining in the match and curved a ball around a wall onto the net, but Mariemont’s last defender headed it clear.
Later with just under 17 minutes to go in a crucial decision, Hurley again from within the box fired a shot on net which appeared to come into contact with the raised hand of a Mariemont defender, but play continued and Hurley was shown a yellow card by the referee seconds later.
“You can’t control what the referees call and don’t call,” Milby said. “He may have had a better angle than we had and saw something we didn’t. I think the guys still did a great job of continuing to push on and play their game.”
Greeneview got a final opportunity mere yards from the goalline with five minutes left, but Mariemont’s keeper corralled a loose ball. The Warriors were able to bleed out the clock to secure the win.
The Rams had the advantage in total shots (8-5), corner kicks (4-3) and free kicks in the attacking zone (4-2), but the season comes to an end with an 11-6-2 record.
“Can’t say enough about just how proud I am of them for all their work all year and the performance put in tonight,” Milby said.