XENIA — It’s understood that whenever Miami Valley League rivals and Greene County foes Xenia and Fairborn get together for any athletic competition, things can get pretty intense.
Tuesday’s Oct. 15 boys soccer battle was intense with hair on it.
Five players received red cards, a couple more were given yellow cards and even a fan was ejected, as host No. 13 seed Xenia claimed a 2-0 win over No. 16 Fairborn in a Division I sectional tournament first-round match.
The Buccaneers (8-4-5) scored first with 5:09 left to play in the opening half.
Xenia junior forward Brycen Heim took a quick pass from senior midfielder Noah Frisby, and bashed the ball into the left side of the Fairborn nets from close range for the score.
In the second half, with 27:40 left in the contest, things got ugly.
After a trio of fruitless Buccaneer drives, Xenia’s Jake Cloud drove in deep into Skyhawks territory and collided with Fairborn senior goalie Zach Gillman. With the ball still in play near the Fairborn goal, Cloud appeared to wrap his arms around Gillman’s legs as the Skyhawk keeper was trying to get up.
Gillman pushed Cloud away, another Xenia player ran in to push Gillman, a Fairborn player then came to Gillman’s defense … and then things just escalated quickly from there.
Punches were thrown.
Cards were handed out.
And a fan, presumed to be the parent of one of the red-carded players, was escorted out of Doug Adams Stadium.
When play resumed, both Fairborn goalkeepers on the roster were on the sidelines along with another player, and two Xenia players were sidelined as well.
Fairborn (5-10-2) played the rest of the game short-handed by one man. Skyhawks senior midfielder Cayden Campbell donned a neon orange penny jersey and took over in goal the rest of the way.
With 1:17 remaining in the contest, Frisby added a clinching goal for the Buccaneers.
Xenia coach John Bongers said his players were able to stay focused on the task at hand throughout much of the contest.
“For most of the game, we were both pretty calm and in control,” Xenia coach John Bongers said. “But we had that incident there, and soccer will get like that once in a while. The players did the right thing. They focused on the game and they focused on the result. Now we get to go on to the next round.”
Bongers recognized Fairborn brothers Keegan and Donovan Dierker and said Xenia’s key was to do their best to shut those two scoring threats down.
As one of the game’s officials explained, the refs will file a report with the Ohio High School Athletic Association, and then the OHSAA will determine the severity of the suspension for the five players who received red cards.
The official said Fairborn Athletic Directer Kevin Alexander and Xenia A.D. Nathan Kopp will be notified prior to Xenia’s second-round match, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19 on the road against top-seed Beavercreek.
The OHSAA Handbook states that a player receiving a straight red card “shall be ineligible for all contests for the remainder of that day,” plus “shall be ineligible for all contests at all levels in soccer until two regular season/tournament contests are played at the same level of the ejection.”
Fairborn coach Greg Dierker appreciated that both teams showed cooler heads in the closing moments of the match. And when the two teams shook hands after the match, there were no visible hostilities then either.
“Yes, cooler heads definitely prevailed the rest of the way. That was good to see. They’re gonna have a tough match against a very good Beavercreek team, especially being down two players, but I wish them well,” Dierker said.
Fairborn loses 10 seniors — Zach Gillman, Josh Best, Keegan Dierker, Tyler Manning, Carsten Kurtz, Rahjay Morgan, Elijah Picarello, Donnie Lynn, Cayden Campbell and Nate Walburn. Eight of those players started for the Skyhawks on Tuesday night.
Xenia now faces a Beavercreek team that enters the tourney with an 11-1-4 record, in the second round. Bongers just wants his kids to do their best.
“We tell the guys the same thing every time. All we expect is work rate and quality,” Bongers said. “Work as hard as you can, and play with the best skills as you’ve got. If they do that, I’ll be happy.”
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.