Defenders headed back to Final 4
by Bryan Walters
GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — And here we go again.
The Ohio Valley Christian soccer team advanced to the Ohio Christian School Athletic Association Final Four on Saturday with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Christian Community Warriors in a regional final.
The third-seeded Defenders never trailed in the contest, but both teams found themselves deadlocked in a scoreless tie at the intermission and knotted at one-all after regulation. OVCS, however, needed just five minutes in the first overtime to secure a return trip to Circleville, as senior Richard Bowman bounced the winner off the post for a thrilling 2-1 triumph.
The Defenders — who last year finished as the OCSAA runner-up — will take on second-seeded Toledo Emmanuel Christian at 4 p.m. Friday in a state semifinal held at Ohio Christian University.
Two-time defending-champion and top-seeded Lakewood Hearts for Jesus Christ will face fourth-seeded Mansfield Temple Christian in the other semifinal at 2 p.m. All four of these teams were in the 2011 OCSAA Final Four.
OVCS outshot the sixth-seeded Warriors by a 13-7 overall margin and claimed a 5-3 edge in corner kicks, but both squads were scoreless through 56 minutes of play.
Then in the 57th minute, senior Caleb McKitrick netted his 20th goal of the season and gave the Defenders a 1-0 edge after netting a pass from classmate Chance Burleson. John Liota, however, tied things with an unassisted goal in the 67th minute — which forced the first 15 minute OT session.
Burleson found Bowman with a pass in the fifth minute, and Bowman’s shot from the right-corner of the box ricocheted off the opposite post. Upon impact, the ball bounced toward the back of the net and over the goal line — giving the Defenders a spot in this weekend’s Final Four.
Freshman Marshall Hood made six saves in net for OVCS, which enters this weekend’s semifinal with a 10-5-2 overall mark.
The Defenders earned a tie with host Calvary Christian Monday following a 1-1 outcome in the regular season finale.
OVCS never led and trailed 1-0 at the break, despite gaining a 16-4 edge in shots on the goal in the contest.
Calvary took a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute after Trent Spears scored on a free kick, but the guests rallied to tie things in the 44th minute after Burleson netted a rebound on a shot by Bowman.
OVCS had a 4-1 edge in corner kicks, and Hood made three saves in goal for the Defenders.
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