By John Bombatch
XENIA — Tipp City Tippecanoe made its Greater Western Ohio Conference debut a good one, Tuesday night at Doug Adams Stadium, in a 4-0 win over the host Xenia Buccaneers.
“They were the better team. They were more aggressive and they just didn’t back down,” Xenia coach Keenan Mikal said. “We still have a lot of guys getting used to filling in at different places of the lineup. We lost a lot of really solid players from last year’s team, and we’re still adjusting to that I think.”
Red Devil passes just seemed a little more sharp, and the Tipp City offense just seemed that much more aggressive throughout the game. But it wasn’t until just under four minutes were left in the first half that Tippecanoe’s Zach Bonifas scored from close range along the left side of the Buccaneers goal.
Roughly two minutes later, Nathan Hamberg beat Xenia goalkeeper Alex Dye to a ball just off the left wing, and the Tipp senior punched home a score to make it 2-0 Red Devils with 1:50 left to play in the opening half.
“We have a crew of good defenders and some good midfielders, and a lot of other guys who are just getting used to playing,” Mikal added. “But we gave up two bad goals late in that first half that hurt us. Tippecanoe is quick with the ball, and they’re sharp with their passes. We have to work harder in practice to get to that point, but we’re not there yet.”
Mitch Colvin took advantage of a Xenia penalty kick with 25:55 left to play in the match. His kick from about 25 yards out beat Dye to the left side of the Xenia goal and put Tippecanoe out in front, 3-0.
And in perhaps the prettiest goal of the evening, Colvin drove down the left side of the pitch, kicked a pass to Chance Cyphers out on the right, who then crossed a pass in front of the Xenia goal where Bonifas was there to head in his second score of the night.
“Xenia came out and played physical. We expected that and knew that was what it would be like playing in the GWOC now,” said Tipp City assistant coach Ian Porto, who was subbing for head coach Scott Downing for Tuesday’s game. Tippecanoe was a member of the Central Buckeye Conference last season. “I thought we did a good job of staying composed, adjusting the game plan as the first half wore on. … We did a good job of keeping at it, and we managed a couple first-half goals there.”
Mikal credited Dye with a solid job in goal, and said his defenders provided equally solid efforts. The Bucs’ regular starting goalie was out with an injury. Genyus Gaisie, Stephen Holton, Joe Cloud, Shon Dyamond, Noah Turner and Matt Stefan each stepped in to thwart at least one Red Devils scoring drive.
Tippecanoe (1-0) is a part of the GWOC’s American North division with Piqua, Vandalia Butler, Sidney, Troy and Greenville. They will host Clayton Northmont at 7 p.m. on Saturday for the Red Devils’ home opener.
Xenia (0-1) is in the GWOC American South division with newcomers Riverside Stebbins and Trotwood-Madison along with perennial division foes Fairborn and West Carrollton. The Buccaneers have an early 10 a.m. contest for their next battle on Saturday at Springfield Shawnee High School.