By Zach Gregory
BELLBROOK — Heading into the final boys varsity soccer game of the regular season, Bellbrook coach Kevin Terrell wanted his team to face a tough challenge to prepare for the postseason.
Whitehouse Anthony Wayne (9-6-1) provided that challenge, beating Bellbrook (13-3), 2-1, Saturday at Bellbrook High School.
“We schedule a team like that for a reason. It’s not really a deciding factor of whether we win or lose. It’s more of a factor of can we learn from our mistakes in a high-caliber game,” said Terrell.
The Generals, who drove all the way from the Toledo area, were the first to score. With just under 20 minutes left, Alec Marshall centered the ball to Bryce Ulrich who scored from about 20 yards out.
“They’re really good. Last year they were regional finalists, year before that they were state final four,” said Terrell. “They’re a Division-I school, and we get a little bit of a different taste playing a school from the Toledo area.”
Bellbrook answered two minutes later. Brandon Druffner took a shot that was stopped by Anthony Wayne keeper Brendan Vaughn. Josh Lawson tracked down the rebound and put the ball in the net for the Golden Eagles, tying the game 1-1.
With 8:28 left in the first half, Anthony Wayne was able to strike quickly to take the lead. Tucker Ramirez put the ball in play near the net where A.J. Gyurasics reflected the ball into the goal with a header.
Anthony Wayne coach Brian Billings said that his team was excited to play Bellbrook.
“I thought it was a good game. A good back and forth game. Two really good teams, and it was good tournament preparations for us as we both get ready for a run,” he said. “We really put a lot on this like it’s our first-round matchup. It’s probably going to be harder to focus on Wednesday, actually. It’s a game we think we will win by a few goals, rather than a game that’s wide open.”
Both teams were stout on defense in the second half. Bellbrook had eight shots in the second half, but they were almost all contested. They unofficially had 15 shots total for the game. The Generals finished with 10.
Vaughn finished the game with two saves. B.J. Finch, who was in goal for Anthony Wayne in the second half, had four saves.
Bellbrook lost to the Generals 1-0 last season before going on a run in the playoffs. Terrell credited the game for their success.
“It’s something that our boys learned from last year. I think the reason that we made our run was because of this game right here. We’re hoping we learn from their style a little bit, and what we need to fix. They exploited a couple of our weaknesses that we can learn from and get fixed before Tuesday starts.”
The Golden Eagles begin the postseason in a game against Dayton Ponitz at 7 p.m. today at Bellbrook High School.
Reach Zach Gregory at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2124.