Flyers lose heartbreaker to Valley in SOC showdown

Published 1:06 am Thursday, October 14, 2021

Jim Walker


The call that wasn’t called.

What appeared to be a game-tying goal was waved off and it proved to be decisive as the Lucasville Valley Indians edged the St. Joseph Flyers 3-1 in a showdown for first place in the Southern Ohio Conference 1 soccer title chase.

St. Joseph is 11-5 overall and 6-2 in the SOC from a team that graduated 13 players including 8 starters from a district finalist team.

Valley is now 13-1 and 7-0 in the conference.

The Indians were lead 2-1 with 15 minutes to play in the game when the Flyers scored what appeared to be the tying goal. Wesley Neal knocked the ball from the goalkeeper’s hand before he could gain possession of the ball and scored, but an official called the goal off as he ruled the goalkeeper did have possession.

“That play deflated our team and we gave up a late goal in the last minute of the game,” said Flyers’ coach Mike Balestra. “But both teams played smart. Valley has a good team.”

Zachary Johnson had the Flyers’ lone goal while Austoin Summers scored twice for Valley and Lucy Ashkettle had the other goal.

Bryce Stuart, Chase Ruby and Summers each had an assist and goalie Chris Queen had 9 saves.

Despite the loss, Balestra had nothing but praise for his team’s effort not only against the Indians but throughout the season.

“The boys have trained and practiced hard all season and almost pulled off their third SOC 1 championship in three seasons in the league,” said Balestra who noted the Flyers are the smallest school in the state of Ohio playing soccer.

“What this team has accomplished this season is unbelievable and a direct result of their hard work.”

The Flyers finished the game with 14 shots including 10 on goal, 10 fouls, 2 corner kicks and one offside penalty.

Goalkeeper Eli Ford had 5 saves.

On Moandy, St. Joseph blanked the Chesapeake Panthers 8-0 as Johnson registered a hat trick while 5 other players also scored goals.

Others scoring goals were Blake Stuntebeck, Elijah Rowe, Brady Medinger, Wesley Neal and Matthew Heighton.

Michael Mahlmeister dished out 3 assists while Elijah Rowe, Sam “Bam Bam” Walker and Johnson had one each.

Ford notched 9 saves for the Flyers.

St. Joseph took 34 shots with 18 on goal. They had 15 corner kicks, 4 fouls and 3 offside penalties.

Goalie Eli Hayton had 10 saves for the Panthers who had 10 shots with 9 on goal, 10 fouls, 3 corner kicks and one offside penalty.

The Flyers will host West Union on Tuesday in a sectional tournament game.