By John Bombatch
FAIRBORN — It’s in the history books, and nobody can take that distinction away from them.
With Tuesday night’s 3-0 victory over the host Fairborn Skyhawks, the Xenia Buccaneers became the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s very first American South division champion.
“We didn’t want to share it. We wanted to win this outright,” Xenia coach Keenan Mikal said. “As the season rolled on, we just got more confident and more comfortable in playing with each other. A lot of these young guys, they weren’t as confident in the beginning and now we are. We were winning the 50-50 balls, and that really helped for us to get that first goal early.”
With barely two minutes gone in the first half, a Skyhawks defender appeared to drag down senior midfielder Shon Dyamond as he was driving toward the Fairborn goal, and was whistled for the foul. Xenia’s Joe Cloud took the penalty kick and knocked the score in off of goalie Luke Crowley’s hands to put Xenia ahead, 1-0.
It wasn’t until almost midway through the second half that Xenia scored again. This time, Cloud and sophomore midfielder Cameron Atkinson came up with a nifty give-n-go play, where Cloud passed to Atkinson, then got the ball back in time to fire off a score from about 30 yards out.
Roughly a minute later, senior midfielder Genyus Gaisie beat three Fairborn defenders around the left side of the defense before getting off a shot and the match’s final score.
This is the first year that the American South division has been in existence. The GWOC divided up into four divisions pairing schools by region and similarity in size. Both Fairborn and Xenia where part of the GWOC South in previous years.
Xenia finishes out the regular season with an 11-5 overall mark, 6-4-0 in the GWOC American South, and they’ll host Huber Heights Wayne at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 7 in the Dayton 3 sectional bracket as the Division I tournament’s no. 7 seed.
Fairborn (5-8-3, 3-4-3 American South) will open postseason play in Division I’s Dayton 2 sectional bracket. The no. 16-seed Skyhawks have a tough task in their opener. They’ll travel to Troy to take on the undefeated no.4-seeded Trojans, also at 7 p.m. Monday.
With the game becoming a one-sided affair, tensions both on the field and in the stands seemed to escalate in the final minutes.
One Fairborn defender drew the ire of Xenia fans after launching himself into a Buccaneer player and not being called with a foul. A bit later, Fairborn’s Tanner Robinson was given a yellow card for a similar hit.
The public address announcer encouraged fans to be mindful that they were watching high school student athletes play a soccer match, and implored the fans to be respectful. Tensions soon simmered.
“Unfortunately, we gave up that early penalty kick. But I thought the rest of the first half was pretty even,” Fairborn coach Greg Dierker said. “The second half was the same thing. Good passion and a good game by both teams. We knew we had to win, and we needed two goals, and so we started pushing up our offense a little bit. But they had a couple good goals late in the game.”
Dierker wanted to credit his seniors — tri-captains Crowley, Dalen Gevedon and Walker Newell, along with Tanner Robinson, Andrew Mellon, Austin Suther and Mason Duck — for a solid effort in their final home match.
“They played hard tonight. Now we have to go give everything we’ve got against Troy,” he said.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.