XENIA — Fully realizing they would face each other again in just a few days in the first round of the Division I boys soccer playoffs, the Fairborn and Xenia coaches buttoned up their playbooks and were careful not to reveal their true identities in Tuesday’s Senior Night finale at Doug Adams Stadium, right?
Not a chance!
The two Greater Western Ohio Conference, South Division and Greene County rivals went after each other and didn’t hide a thing in what turned out to be a 2-1 Xenia Buccaneers win.
“No! I’m not into all that holding back stuff, you just gotta play,” Xenia coach Keenan Mikal said. “We want to compete to try and win each game, even if we’re going to play them next week, it doesn’t matter to me.”
Speedy Xenia junior midfielder Joe Cloud took a pass from freshman midfielder Genius Gayse and knocked the ball just inside the right post to give the Buccaneers the go-ahead score with 12:23 left to play in the match.
Cloud had scored the match’s first goal roughly 16 minutes into the contest after taking a pass from Shon Dyamond for his first score into the right side of the Skyhawks goal.
Fairborn had tied the match with 35:46 left to play in the match when Skyhawks senior midfielder A.J. Greene took a pass from Skylar Shonkwiler, then sent a fast right-to-left roller into the Buccaneers goal.
With the win, Xenia (10-5-1, 3-2-0 GWOC South) assured itself of finishing third in the division. Fairborn slips to 6-6-3, 1-3-1 GWOC South with the loss.
“We changed things just a little bit, because we have a couple thoughts for next Tuesday. But Xenia’s a good team and we want to give them our best show,” Fairborn coach Greg Dierker said. “Last year, we did the same thing. We tied them in the final regular season game, and then we went to penalty kicks in the tournament and won. So it’s always a good battle.
“They had more chances today, but we have a few things that we’re thinking of doing differently next Tuesday.”
Xenia’s four seniors — Connor Reichert, Zach Brunsman, Daniel Miller, and Michael Porter — were each recognized prior to the varsity match.
Fairborn’s Branden Cook, Dylan Ealey, Alex Profitt, Shonkwiler, Nathan Haywood, Julius Nyakayiru, Tyler Humble, Adam Knaub, goaltender Andrew Gilbert, Greene, and Shane Ward played their final regular season match for the Skyhawks.
The two teams will meet up on Tuesday at Doug Adams Stadium’s Veterans Memorial Field in the first round of the Division I Dayton 2 bracket for a 7 p.m. match. Xenia enters as the tournament’s ninth seed; Fairborn is seeded no. 10.
The winner will advance to a second-round matchup on Saturday, Oct. 24 with either 17th seeded Riverside Stebbins or third-seed Centerville.