By John Bombatch
FAIRBORN — There’s this green stuff that, if you water it, it comes up out of the ground and provides cover for all the dirt. It gets covered in dew on cool fall evenings and, if you’re not used to playing soccer matches on it, the sometimes slippery surface can give you fits while you’re running around on it.
Playing just its second match of the season on a grass surface, visiting Kettering Fairmont needed most of the first half of Monday night’s girls high school soccer match with host Fairborn, just to figure out how to play on grass again. Once they had it all figured out, the Firebirds rolled to a 6-2 win over the Skyhawks.
When Fairmont regained its footing, the Firebirds became an aggressive team that was getting to the loose balls and deftly making pin-point passes to each other.
“We started taking care of our chances, and that’s good. At halftime, we talked about collecting the loose balls, getting in and applying pressure, and making sure we were the first ones there to the ball,” Fairmont coach Reade Faulkner explained. “We play on turf all the time, so it took us a little while to get used to the surface. Us old guys, it’s what we always played on, but this was only our second time playing on grass this season, and that’s different from years past. So it took some getting used to.”
Fairborn got on the scoreboard first when Lauren Thomas launched a deep kick out of the Skyhawks’ end of the field, and found senior co-captain Dani Dierker on a breakaway behind the Firebirds defense for the score.
It wasn’t until nearly 17 minutes later that Fairmont junior forward Lexie Auckerman scored the first of three goals for her career-first hat trick.
In the second half, Kettering briefly grabbed the lead once again when Auckerman scored her second goal of the night off a nice assist from Maddie Seaman at the 8 minute mark of the second half.
Fairborn tied the match six minutes later when Dierker made a nice right-to-left crossing pass to sophomore midfielder Isabella Carone who scored from the left side
Skyhawk fans barely had enough time to sit back down after Carone’s goal when — 36 seconds later — when Fairmont’s Olivia Frank drove deep into the right side of the Fairborn defense and knocked in a go-ahead score from the right side.
Fairborn never responded.
Auckerman scored her third goal with 22:37 left to play, Seaman punched in the third ricochet off Fairborn goalie Brooke Mullins to give the ‘birds a 5-2 lead with nine minutes left to play, and then sophomore midfielder Riley Tew scored her first career goal with 1:48 left to play for the game’s final 6-2 margin.
Fairborn coach Keith Rentz said his Skyhawks badly missed co-captain/senior midfielder Regan Diehl who is out with a concussion.
“I think we gave a strong effort for about 50-60 minutes of tonight’s match, but in those last 20 minutes we just ran out of gas,” he said. “Down the stretch, we were just exhausted. Fairmont did a nice job of getting us out of shape defensively, and we couldn’t respond.”
Another Greater Western Ohio Conference, National East division squad is up next for Fairborn. The Skyhawks will host Beavercreek on Wednesday.
“It’s another strong GWOC opponent, so we’ll have another tough one. Beavercreek has a very good program,” Rentz said.
Fairmont returns to GWOC National East action when they travel to Huber Heights Wayne that same day.