XENIA — An enjoyable ride for Legacy Christian’s boys soccer team keeps getting better with each game it plays.
LCA has a 15-0-0 record this season following Tuesday’s 3-1 win at home against Valley View and has now secured the most wins in a single season in school history. The team is ranked No. 3 in the latest OSSCA state poll for Division III and is the top ranked team in the Miami Valley poll.
“To be honest, I think we’ve exceeded expectations,” head coach Joe McCaskey said. “I’m really proud of the guys. Going into the season I expected big things, but I don’t know if I necessarily expected to be 15-0 right away.”
Legacy has been relatively unchallenged in most of its matches, but has defeated solid competition both in and out of the Metro Buckeye Conference along its winning streak as well. Wins against D-I Xenia, along with local D-III powers Yellow Springs and Miami East have helped build the confidence of the Knights each time they take to the pitch.
Parker Burke is the leading scorer having netted 36 of the team’s 63 goals this season, and also leads in points accumulated at 77. Dillon Campbell has 12 assists, while Andrew Riddle, Joseph Rutan and Burke all have five.
While not a huge difference from years past in overall goals against, the Knights defense has been a huge factor in its run this season.
Adam Newell patrols the net and leads the MBC in shutouts with eight and has allowed only eight goals all season in addition to more than 130 saves.
“He just makes saves that you may think are 100 percent going to go in the net,” McCaskey said of Newell.
LCA as a team has seen a decline in goals allowed each of the last three seasons, allowing 15 total in 2020 and 13 a year ago.
Ethan Cooper has headlined the backline for the Knights, with a supporting cast David Norris, Justin Harphant and Boede Campbell, who was able to begin playing recently following an injury. All are part of a cohesive team effort to make things easier for Newell.
“One thing I’ve focused on heavily with our defense and our outside backs, when they win the ball, they’ve got to wide or it not then to bring it back,” McCaskey said. “What I want is our defense to possess the ball and move up together as a team. I think that’s worked really well.”
A good defense has allowed scoring to have to be as much of a priority, even with the strong play of Burke up front. After Tuesday’s win, the Knights are now averaging 4.2 goals per match. The team was scoring more than six goals a match two years ago and closer to 4.5 last season.
“We’ve benefited from some really good players, but what I’ve tried to do is build a program with a style of play to keep possession and moving the ball together,” McCaskey said. “It’s taken those three years to be built.”
LCA was in an uncomfortable situation Tuesday without Burke playing and had some trouble getting good shots on net while its defense held its own. Burke ended up being subbed in early in the second half to provide support, but Valley View netted a goal on a breakaway to take a lead with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Almost in an instant the spark had been initiated, as pleasant as being scored against can be still, to get the Knights in gear. Campbell forced a penalty kick to be awarded for a foul in the 18-yard box and slide one by to tie the match barely over a minute after losing the lead. He and Burke would go on to score two more in both of the top corners of the net to extend the winning streak.
A win against Dayton Christian on Oct. 13 in the regular season finale would give the Knights’ its second outright MBC title in three seasons, and at least a share could be clinched should DC be defeated by Yellow Springs on Thursday.
The team will also learn of its route through the postseason on Sunday when sectional brackets for the state tournament are determined.
With an unbeaten record and wins over some of the best teams in the area, the potential to earn a No. 1-seed is not a achievement which is being overlooked.
“If we don’t get it, I’ll be really upset,” McCaskey said. “I think we deserve it. Our guys have worked really hard, beat Yellow Springs and Miami East which are tough, tough teams. A number one seed would mean a lot to me and to the guys.”
The lead up to the run of 15-straight wins hasn’t been lost though despite the upcoming excitement which is fast approaching and McCaskey believes everyone is enjoying and taking in what has been a memorable season thus far.
“I’ve loved practicing with the guys back to preseason workouts and all that and it’s been so fun,” he said. “It’d be fun even if it wasn’t 15-0, but that just makes it even more fun.
“Having a good team makes a coach look better than I am and they make it easy. Rely on the players and it makes me look good. So absolutely it’s been fun.”
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.