XENIA — The Xenia Buccaneers boys varsity soccer squad went into Tuesday night’s Division I tournament opener with a good deal of confidence. That, teamed with lots of aggression on the field, earned the Bucs a convincing 6-1 win at Doug Adams Stadium over rival Fairborn.
“We’re just going to play every game. The last time we played them, we were aggressive for the entire first half. This time, we finished our chances, and we did it early. That was the great thing about this win.” Xenia coach Keenan Mikal said.
Xenia (11-5-1) had defeated Fairborn 2-1 in the two teams’ final regular season contest last week. They had three corner kick opportunities in the first eight minutes of the match before Fairborn (6-8-3) could get off a shot on goal.
Then, roughly 13 minutes into the first half, Xenia midfielder Genius Gayse headed a ball to fellow midfielder Nathan Higgins, who bashed a kick into the right side of the Fairborn goal.
Higgins scored again about four minutes later when he drove through the Skyhawks defense and launched another successful shot from the right side.
Bucs teammate Zach Brunsman got into the scoring act at the 16:31 mark of the first half with a steal and a breakaway shot to make the score 3-0. He scored on a penalty kick with 11 minutes left in the half to put the Buccaneers out in front 4-0.
Brunsman is rated second in the Greater Western Ohio Conference in scoring with 18 goals and 13 assists thus far.
Perhaps the lone bright moment for Fairborn came at 9:42 in the opening half when Tanner Robinson broke downfield and fed senior Branden Cook with a nifty pass for the lone Skyhawks score of the night.
“That was a really nice finish for Branden, off a nice assist from Robinson. Number 16 (Brunsman) comes out hard with lot of pace, and we knew we had to come out and play pretty hard … and we didn’t. They wanted the ball more than we did,” Fairborn coach Greg Dierker said. “The bottom line was, 15 minutes into the game they’re winning all the 50-50 balls and beating us to everything, and that really changed the game around.”
Xenia’s Blake Bond scored the final goal of the first half to put the Bucs out in front 5-1 at the break.
Joe Cloud scored off an assist from Connor Reichert barely eight minutes into the second half for the final tally.
Dierker praised Skyhawk seniors Skylar Schonkwiler, A.J. Greene, Tyler Humble, goalie Andy Gilbert, Cook, Dylan Ealey, Alex Profitt, Nathan Haywood, Adam Knaub, Nhat Mai, Julius Nyakayiru and Shane Ward for playing hard in their final game.
Xenia, the tournament’s ninth seed, will now face third-seeded Centerville in the next round, at 7 p.m. Saturday at Magsig Middle School in Centerville. The Elks defeated Riverside Stebbins, 6-0, on Tuesday night to advance.
“We haven’t played them since last year. I think we’re a much more organized team, we’re much more confident. And with a win like this, it just builds our confidence even more,” Mikal said. “I honestly believe that we can play with anybody.”