By John Bombatch
XENIA — When Vandalia Butler coach John Gray attended Miami University women’s coach Bobby Kramig’s soccer camp a few years ago, he was told that you can tell a team’s success by the number of passes they can string together.
Gray’s Aviators routinely strung together 5-6 passes at a time on nearly every drive they had against the host Xenia Buccaneers, and it led to all kinds of success for Butler in Monday’s 6-0 win at Doug Adams Stadium.
Keoni Rakestraw capitalized on most of Butler’s passing success. She scored Butler’s first goal at the 18:51 mark of the first half, then bashed another close-range shot through the Xenia goalkeeper’s hands for the Aviators’ second score of the evening a couple minutes later. Then with just over 10 minutes left in the half, the junior midfielder drove into the left wing and fired off yet another close-range score to put Butler out in front 3-0.
“She has really picked up her goal scoring and her shots on goal. She played really well tonight,” Gray said. “I had a few people who I sat out tonight to try and give them some time to recover from injuries, so it was nice to get some subs in tonight. But that’s nothing against Xenia, they played really hard tonight. They didn’t quit, that’s for sure. They did all right.”
Briana Fourman was credited with the Aviators’ final goal of the first half, a blast from the right side with 12.5 seconds unable to wind fast enough off the clock.
Rakestraw sat out most of the second half.
“Butler moved the ball really well, and that caused us some problems early on,” Xenia coach Jim Lamb said. “We weren’t real confident in how to handle that. And then when you give up two goals right away, that shook our confidence a bit. Right before their third goal, we made a nice breakaway that their keeper made a big save on, and we seemed to let down after that … especially when they came back and scored that third goal on us.”
In the second half, Madison Walko stole the ball from a Xenia player at midfield, dished a pass to Brooklyn Warren who then passed to Lauren Channey, who knocked in a nice shot from the right side for Butler’s fifth goal of the night.
Taylor Gingrich closed out the scoring with five minutes left to play for the final 6-0 margin.
Fourman and Channey also had assists, as did Brittney Petroskey, Warren and Walko.
“We’ve worked for two years on just passing the ball, dishing it off and not being selfish with it, and this is the result. When you get off 5-6 passes at a time like that, you’re going to do well,” Gray said. “Now there were a few times when they were a little bit too unselfish — where they could’ve shot the ball, but they didn’t — but they did very well tonight. They did well defensively, and we made some defensive runs on goal which is great.
“But our big test will be Wednesday night when we play Sidney. The (Greater Western Ohio Conference) North should come down between us, Sidney and Troy. So that match will be big.”
Butler will host Sidney at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the high school.
Xenia (1-3-3) begins GWOC South play Wednesday when they’ll travel for a 7 p.m. game at Lebanon.