CLAYTON – Cameron Atkinson gave Xenia an early 1-0 lead Monday, Oct. 15 over Northmont in the opening round of Division I sectional tournament play with 33:45 remaining in the first half.
Atkinson got past defender Kevin Zile and goal keeper Nick Newman who came out to try to defend. Atkinson maneuvered the ball to the right of Zile and Newman and angled a shot back to the left and into the right center of the net to give the Buccaneers the early lead.
Northmont made some adjustments at halftime and came out with a more organized attack in the second half. Xenia managed to keep the Thunderbolts at bay until 16:36 remained.
Kyle Knerr got the ball near the left sideline with heavy traffic in front of the Xenia goal. Knerr got past a defender and had a clear alley to his right and rifled a kick toward the right post and into the net past the diving goalkeeper to tie the game 1-1.
With 9:26 left Brandon Morton pounded a goal in from the right side from 20 yards out to give Northmont a 2-1 lead that would stand.
“It was a solid second half for us. The first half I don’t know what was going on. We were just real lethargic and just couldn’t put anything together,” said Northmont Coach Bob Brown. “The second half we came out and I guess paid the seniors the honor they deserve and played for a half.”
Xenia mounted a few scoring chances late but Northmont’s defense was rock solid and rebuffed the Buccaneers attempts to tie the game.
“They just played with a little bit more intensity than we did in the second half,” said Xenia Coach Keenan Mikal. “The first goal they got was a great shot. The second goal was just kind of our mistakes. I was happy with how well we played in the first half, but in the second half we just didn’t match that and that was the difference.”
Xenia ends its season at 5-10-2 overall.
Northmont, also 5-10-2, advances to play Butler (13-2-1) on Thursday, Oct. 18 a team the Thunderbolts lost a hard-fought 2-1 match to on Sept. 20.
“I respect the heck out of Butler Coach Steve Doring,” Brown added. “They will be crazy organized and prepared. Every time we play them it’s a good, close hard fought game. It will be fun. If somebody can get out there to watch, it will be a lot of fun.”
Ron Nunnari covers sports for AIM Media Midwest affiliate the Englewood Independent.