Defense sparks Flyers sectional soccer title

Published 12:42 am Sunday, October 23, 2022

St. Joseph Flyers’ Landon Rowe (2) passes the ball before Fairland Dragons’ defender Zaid Mustafa (center) and stop the ball. The Flyers beat the Dragons 3-0 to win the Division 3 sectional soccer title. (Robert S. Stevens/The Gold Studio in Ironton)

By Jim Walker

Any time a team beats a good team, they played well. And if they post a shutout against that good team, the defense had to play well.

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The St. Joseph Flyers did play well and their defense played really well.

The Flyers strong performance enabled them to blank the Fairland Dragons 3-0 in the Division 3 sectional championship game Thursday.

Coach Mike Balestra praised the defensive work of identikits Deborde, Matthew Heighton, Mark Hodges, Ian Whaley and Bryson “Smokey” Burcham.

“Our defensive backs had an excellent game. They controlled the aggressive attack from Fairland and transitioned the ball to allow our attacks to be successful,” said Balestra.

“This was an excellent team effort to bring home the sectional title.”

The sectional title was the third for the Flyers in the past four years. St. Joseph will play Lucasville Valley in the district semifinals on Wednesday. The site and time are to be announced.

Zachary Johnson scored 2 goals for the Flyers while the other score was an own-goal by Fairland. Wesley Neal had anassist.

The Flyers took 20 shots with 11 on goal. They had 10 fouls, 10 corner kicks — 5 by Landon Rowe and 5 by Johnson — and 5 offside penalties.

Goalkeeper Evan Balestra had 5 saves to record the shutout.

Fairland took 16 shots with 5 on goal. The Dragons had 8 fouls, one offside penalty and 2 corner kicks.

Dragons’ goalkeeper James Lauder had 9 saves.