ENON — The host Greenon Knights jumped out to a 2-0 lead, then saw the school’s former quarterback fly all around the goal in defense, for an eventual 3-3 tie with visiting Fairborn, Thursday night at Greenon High School.
After the dust had settled, and Knights goalie Andy Horton had fended off five Skyhawks scoring attempts in the game’s final nine minutes of play, Greenon coach Jeff Nickles felt pretty good about what he saw from his team.
“It was a game that I would have preferred to win, that we were definitely in position to win, but (the outcome) might be a blessing in disguise,” Nickles said. “It might be a learning experience for us, to know that we can really dig in with our heels and fight until the very last minute of the game. Of course after the way we started, I would have rather won the game. But I think we can look back on this game as a defining moment and say we learned something about ourselves that night.”
Asked what it was he learned about the Knights, Nickles smiled and said “Character.”
Chris Baird started the Knights’ early first-half scoring onslaught with a goal off a lob pass from Owen Leathley less than 30 seconds into the game.
Baird then scored just over seven minutes later to give Greenon a 2-0 first-half lead.
Soon after Baird’s second score, he assisted on Colton Smith’s left-to-right shot at the 26:49 mark of the first half to put the Knights in control, 3-0.
Fairborn was then able to take advantage of a pair of Greenon penalties inside the Knights box.
A Knights defender brought down a Skyhawk player who was driving toward the Greenon goal from the left wing, to draw the first penalty. Fairborn’s Adam Knaub scored on the penalty kick with just over 18 minutes left to play in the first half to make the score 3-1, in Greenon’s favor.
The Skyhawks began the second half by capitalizing on yet another Greenon penalty in the box, and it was by the same Knights player. A new Ohio High School Athletic Association rule mandates that if a player gets two yellow cards in one game, the player must sit out the rest of the game.
Tanner Robinson drove the second penalty kick home for a score, with roughly 30 minutes left to play in the second half.
Knaub pressured the Greenon defense eight minutes later.
He drove deep into Knights territory and fired a shot that clanged off the crossbar. Knaub had time to grab the ricochet and knock in the rebound to even the score at 3-all with 21 minutes left in the contest.
Fairborn had five shots on goal in the waning minutes, but the ball either sailed wide, or over the Greenon goal, or first-year goalkeeper Horton was there to snuff out the scoring try. On one particular Skyhawk scoring try, the Fairborn player launched a shot from close range off the right side of the goal, but Horton took the brunt of the shot on his chest and held onto the ball for the save.
“That was a good battle. We didn’t make many adjustments at halftime, but we just picked up the passion,” Fairborn coach Greg Dierker said. “For the second half, we played more as a unit. More as a team. … We had a lot of good tries at the end, but their goalie made some nice saves. I’m just happy with our boys ability to come back.”
Both teams have yet to lose a match this season. Fairborn is now 1-0-2, and will play at Trenton Edgewood on Saturday. Greenon (1-0-1) returns to action on Wednesday when they’ll play at Riverside Stebbins.
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.