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Flyers lose heartbreaker in SOC soccer title game

Jim Walker


The St. Joseph Flyers were thisclose to the boys’ soccer title.

In a showdown for first place in the Southern Ohio Conference last Tuesday, the Flyers lost a 2-1 heartbreaker on the road to the league champion Portsmouth Clay Panthers.

“Playing in a conference for the first time was a great experience for our team,” said Flyers’ coach Mike Balestra. “Our destiny was in our own hands. We needed to win out to be league champs. We gave it all we had but fell one game short.”

Jackson Rowe had the Flyers’ goal with Ryan Payne and Bryce Balestra sharing the assist.

Bryce Toomire scored both goals and Reese Whitley and Dakota Dodds each had an assist for Clay.

The Flyers had 28 shots with 12 on goal, 13 fouls, seven corner kicks and six free kicks.

Clay had 18 shots with 12 on goal, six fouls, three corner kicks and 13 free kicks.

St. Joseph goalkeeper Jimmy Mahlmeister had seven saves while Clay’s keeper Dodds had 11 saves.

“Clay packed it in on us and waited to score when the opportunity presented itself. We made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on them. Our team would like to congratulate Clay on winning the SOC I and having a great season,” said coach Balestra.

On Thursday, St. Joseph beat the New Boston Tigers 3-1 in an SOC game behind a stellar performance by Mahlmeister.

Mahlmeister racked up 15 saves as New Boston put up 27 shots with 16 on goal.

The Flyers had 21 shots with 11 on goal as Tigers’ goalie Brady Voiers got eight saves.

Rowe scored twice for the Flyers and Zach Roach netted the other goal. Payne, Balestra, Rowe and J.C. Damron all had an assist.

The Flyers had 10 fouls, five corner kicks and four free kicks. New Boston had four fouls, two corner kicks and 10 free kicks.

St. Joseph is 13-3 overall and finishes second in the SOC. The Flyers are the No. 4 seed in the sectional tournament and host South Point at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

“I’m really proud of our team. This group has worked tremendously hard all season, pre-season, summer and in the weight room,” said coach Balestra. “They were competitive in all their games. We are a good team and are focusing on the tournament. We want to make a deep run in the tournament.”