XENIA — Whatever team happens to be up next on the Xenia Christian boys varsity soccer schedule, coach Landon Stapleton wants his team to prepare for the match as if they’re playing a state champ.
Defending Division III champion Mansfield Christian wasn’t Tuesday’s opponent. Middletown Christian — a team playing its first varsity soccer game in six years — was, and the Ambassadors won handily, 10-0, on the Athletes In Action field.
“You never know what to expect. Every team that comes in, you want to assume that they’re the best team you’re going to face all year. You never want to assume that you’re going to beat anybody,” Stapleton said. “That was our focus coming into this game. We didn’t know what they were going to be like. We knew they hadn’t formed a team in the last couple years, but we didn’t know how good they’d be. …We didn’t know what to expect. We just wanted to come out and play, and play hard.”
And they did.
Sam Harmon scored three goals for his first hat trick of the season, Gabe Woodard and John McCaskey scored two goals each while Joey McCaskey, Jonathan Cosenza and Noah Cushman each added a goal for Xenia Christian.
Unofficially, Harmon had a pair of assists and Cosenza had one as well.
“Sam’s a team captain, and he’s worked really hard this year. He’s a fantastic player and it’s great to see him get some goals. He had a tough year last season, and so it’s great to see him come out and play well like that,” Stapleton said.
Last season, Harmon led the Ambassadors with seven goals but saw action in just 12 games.
Xenia Christian (1-1) led 6-0 by halftime. The Ambassadors subbed freely for much of the second half to get everybody on the team some playing time.
Middletown Christian coach Collin Hickman said he’d just moved into the Middletown area from Knoxville, Tenn. He’s still getting familiar with his team’s players, but liked the effort they put forth in Tuesday’s game.
“We’re young. This is the first team the school has fielded in I think six years. I just moved here form Tennessee, so I’m not entirely sure,” Hickman said.
He was right.
According to the Metro Buckeye League website, the last time the Eagles played a boys varsity soccer game was back on Oct. 15, 2009 when they fell 5-1 at home to Cincinnati Landmark Christian.
“It’s just a learning experience for all of us. We need to get in better shape, they were dropping pretty quick. But we have good attitudes and we have guys who play hard, they just haven’t played much together. A lot of them haven’t ever played at all. A couple of them are baseball players who decided to play in order to help the team, so we’re learning the game and enjoying this,” Stapleton said.
Middletown Christian (0-1) hosts Horizon Science Academy on Monday. Xenia Christian has a nonleague game up next, too. They’ll host Carlisle at 5 p.m. Thursday on the AIA Field.