XENIA — The underdog Huber Heights Wayne Warriors had won four matches all season long, but now they’re undefeated in the postseason.
Thirteenth seeded Wayne scored the only goal of the match within the first two minutes of Monday’s contest to upset no. 7 seed Xenia, 1-0, at Doug Adams Stadium.
Asked to describe how his team won the match, Wayne coach Dennis Snider smiled and called junior midfielder Nate Johnson over to give an account of his score.
“I got the assist from Daniel (Brown) who sent the ball across to me, and I was able to toe poke it into the goal somehow,” Johnson said. “I mean, it was real lucky. … It was that one goal I’ve been waiting for.”
That’s right. Johnson hadn’t scored a goal all season.
Brown advanced along the right side of the field then crossed a pass to the left, where Johnson was able to get a foot on the ball and send it in for the “lucky” score.
Lucky or not, Wayne made that goal stand up. Once they got a lead, the Warriors, now 5-9-1 on the year, seemed to beat Xenia to the 50-50 balls and their defenders closed in and squelched every Buccaneers advance.
“I think we might have taken Wayne lightly, and we didn’t play with the aggression that we should have,” Xenia coach Keenan Mikal said. “We had a good win over Fairborn (3-0 on Oct. 11), where the guys played incredibly. The intensity was there the whole time, and today it just wasn’t …. and we gave up a lousy goal.
“We had plenty of scoring drives, but we just didn’t finish our chances. That hurts, right there.”
Mikal said his Xenia team seemed to lose its composure once they got behind by Johnson’s goal.
“We still had time, but it was like we had 11 guys just running around after that. … Even when we were not playing very well, we still created loads of chances where we just didn’t finish,” he said.
Xenia finishes the season with an 11-6-0 overall mark. They won the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s American South divisional title with a 6-4-0 record.
Unofficially, Xenia had four corner-kick opportunities and 14 shots toward the goal in the second half. But Warrior junior goaltender Simon Oberkrom grabbed eight of those shots. The rest sailed high or wide of their intended target.
Perhaps his toughest bit of work came with just under 18 minutes left to play.
First, Xenia’s Matt Stefan launched a close-range shot from the left side that just went wide of the right post and out of bounds. Seconds later, Stefan sent a shot in from midfield and senior Noah Turner headed the pass from the left, and it too bounced barely wide of the right post.
With eight minutes to go, senior Genyus Gaisie drove in close from the right side, but failed to get off a shot after colliding with Oberkrom. No foul was called on either team, and Wayne obtained possession to kill the threat.
After a few more saves and pass stops, Oberkrom fended off the last Xenia shot attempt with 62 seconds left in the match. Wayne’s defenders cleared the ball into Xenia territory as time expired.
Xenia loses 10 seniors as a result of the upset loss, but Mikal remained upbeat.
“We lose some great guys, but I’m encouraged by the 15 freshmen we should have coming up next season. They all have year-‘round experience and should eventually be a nice addition to our team,” Mikal said. “I’m sorry to see the seniors go, though. They were a talented bunch.”
Wayne advances to take on sixth-seeded Vandalia Butler in the second round of the sectional tournament. Butler drew a first-round bye. That match is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20 at Butler.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.
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