XENIA — One Xenia Christian soccer team has plenty of players, but little game experience. The other has plenty of experience, but too many sidelined players. Both lost matches to Cincinnati Christian on Saturday.
The Xenia Christian boys fell to Cincinnati Christian 4-0, while the short-handed Ambassador girls squad fell 2-1, Saturday afternoon on the Athletes In Action Sports Complex soccer fields.
First-year boys coach Stephen Panosian is using these early games as a way of building the team’s performance level in time for the post-season tournament.
“That’s the biggest thing we’re focusing on right now, just getting better with each game. So that when tournament time comes along, we’ll have it together,” he said. “A lot of our guys haven’t played soccer before, or they’re freshmen and sophomores. We have a pretty inexperienced team. But they have a lot of heart and they play with that.”
Panosian credited junior forward Sam Harmon and junior goalie Tyler Johnson with solid efforts in Saturday’s loss.
“Sam Harmon is our forward gave it all. He’s really one of the core leaders of the team. He gets the guys together and really focuses on our effort. And Tyler, he leads our defense and always plays with more heart and passion than any player on the team,” Panosian said.
Ethan Statzer had a goal and an assist, while Josh Carney, Christopher Neu, Jake Thomas each scored goals for Cincinnati Christian (2-1).
Both Xenia Christian teams have home games with Tipp City Bethel today, on the AIA fields.
Despite a spirited effort, the Xenia Christian girls soccer team simply ran out of gas in their 2-1 loss to the Cougars.
Ambassadors coach Marty Isaacs said his team had just two substitutes available, and one of them was injured and could only play sparingly. As a result, previously undefeated Xenia Christian (now 1-1-1) lost by one goal.
“(Cincinnati Christian) is a team that is in our sectional this year, so this was an important game for us, with regard to tournament seeding purposes,” Isaacs said. “They’re a team that also went to the district semifinals like we did last year. We played hard, but we only had 12-13 players. Not to make excuses, but when you’re playing 11 versus 11 in 90-degree weather, I only had one healthy sub.
“The biggest thing today was that I was missing three starters. All three of them are all-Conference people, so it hurt not to have them out there. Really, our motto this year has been ‘Next Man Up,’ because we have just been besieged by injuries.”
Two of the team’s four team captains didn’t dress for Saturday’s game.
Victoria and Janice Howarah, and Rachel Graver didn’t play. Graver was a first-team all-Metro Buckeye Conference selection a year ago, and Janice Howarah was an all-MBC second teamer.
The Ambassadors were 13-5-1 last season and, with nine returning starters on board, expected more of the same this time around. Saturday’s loss was the team’s first of the season. Isaacs just hopes to begin bringing his injured players into the fold while the season is still young.
“Our girls fought hard. I’m extremely proud of them, but I had 10 girls who played 80 minutes of soccer today,” Isaacs said. He credited Katie Riddle, Mikeala Tebbing, Rachel Sweeney and Savannah Hart with “Herculean efforts,” but in light of how hard the entire team played, felt guilty for singling anyone out.
“They all played their hearts out today. We just have to weather this storm,” Isaacs said.
On Saturday, Hannah Julian and Kaitlyn Butts scored goals for Cincinnati Christian. Shauna McKain assisted on one goal. Julian, who is currently third in the Miami Valley Conference in scoring also had an assist.
Isaacs hopes to have two of his injured starters back for today’s home game with Bethel.
Isaacs said Graver, who was seen wearing a soft cast on her left leg on Saturday, may make her season debut on Sept. 11 in a key MBC battle with Troy Christian.
(John Bombatch is Sports Editor for Greene County Newspapers. He can be reached at: 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.)