XENIA — Wilmington coach Imad El-Macharrafie was trying to be gracious after his Hurricane bunch claimed a 3-1 road win over Xenia. Truth was Wilmington simply outplayed the host Buccaneers, especially in the second half, Aug. 23 on Doug Adams Stadium’s Veterans Field.
“I think the advantage we had in the second half may have come down to fitness a little bit,” El-Macharrafie said. “We had minimal control of the game and had a few more possessions, and we were fortunate to put a few second-half goals in the net.”
The Hurricane coach was being nice. Wilmington (2-0) dominated the second half.
Wilmington had five corner kick opportunities in the second half, to zero for Xenia.
Buccaneers senior midfielder Zach Stefan put Xenia out in front in the first half for a 1-0 lead at the break, but the tempo and offensive pressure was all Wilmington in the second half.
Josh Vaughan drew Wilmington even at 1-all with a nifty right-left-right drive from the right wing, he then fired a low roller from about 10 yards out that slipped past the Xenia goalie for the score eight minutes into the second half.
With Wilmington pressuring the Xenia defense for a good portion of the next 15-16 minutes, a Buc defender drew a foul inside the box to set up a Hurricane penalty kick with 16:39 left in the contest.
Wilmington’s Brady Vilvens took the PK. The Hurricane sophomore stutter stepped his way out of a straight-ahead shot before fading to his right and scoring into the left side of the Buccaneer goal.
After a couple Hurricane corner kick tries were cleared and each team drew a yellow card, Wilmington’s Matt Butcher stole the ball at midfield, raced down the right sideline, cut left and launched a nifty low blast into the right side of the Xenia goal to put the Hurricane out in front for good, 3-1, with 5:37 left to play.
“Xenia is a very very well-coached team, and I think they forced us to become a better team tonight,” El-Macharrafie added.
Xenia coach Keenan Mikal said he was concerned with how tentative his Bucs bunch seemed to be, especially in the second half.
“We were terrific in the first half,” Mikal said. “In the second half, we just played scared. That’s all it was. We’ve got guys on this team who just play scared. … We’ve got guys who think they’re full-time players, but only part of the time. They don’t want to do the nasty stuff, to get in there on a tackle and do the hard work.”
The Hurricane return to the pitch on Saturday, Aug. 25 when they’ll play at Washington Court House. Xenia is now 1-2 overall. The Bucs have the weekend off. They’ll play their first road game of the season next, a 7 p.m. Tuesday Aug. 28 contest at Sidney.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.