CHESAPEAKE, Ohio — Truth be told, the Blue Devils didn’t want to share.
But for the Gallia Academy High School soccer program, which for so long has struggled so much, a championship is a championship all the same.
And, as of Thursday night, the Blue Devils — in their first season in the Ohio Valley Conference and in the league’s first season of soccer — are officially conference co-champions.
That’s because Gallia Academy, spearheaded by a double hat trick from senior striker Isaiah Lester, amassed an 8-1 victory over the Chesapeake Panthers — as the contest completed the Blue Devils’ regular season and initial OVC campaign.
Lester, in scoring three goals in each half for a final tally of six, made Phil Davis Stadium in Chesapeake his personal playground.
With the win, the Blue Devils conclude the regular season at 10-5-1, having already assured themselves of their first winning season in school history.
Gallia Academy, having long struggled as a member of the lameduck Southeastern Ohio Athletic League, ended its OVC slate at 7-1-0 — sharing the conference championship with South Point.
The Pointers posted an identical league record, thanks to defeating Fairland 4-1 in their OVC finale.
The Blue Devils did have an excellent opportunity to take the title outright a week ago, but saw a 3-1 second-half lead on South Point evaporate into a stunning 4-3 loss.
Thus, South Point and Gallia Academy each won on the other’s home pitch, as the Blue Devils erased a 2-0 deficit at South Point — claiming a 5-4 win almost a month ago.
Hence, both clubs ended up splitting the first-ever OVC championship.
“It was a very good performance from my kids tonight,” said GAHS coach Richard Isberner. “It was very enjoyable to watch them play the way they did and win the league. I was able to play every player too.”
Lester, in scoring his half-dozen goals to give him a massive 32 for the entire season, was a one-man wrecking crew.
In the opening half, he scored with 38, 26 and 10 minutes to play — as Gallia Academy amounted a 3-0 lead before the Panthers popped their only goal with two minutes remaining in the half.
In the second stanza, Lester’s markers occurred with 33, 31 and three minutes left — punctuating the 8-1 win and the OVC championship.
Gallia Academy’s other two tallies — both in the second 40 minutes — were from Justin Day with 32 to go, and by Miguel Velasco only four minutes later.
Day, Pedro Carrascal and Jacob Ratliff registered two assists apiece, while senior goalkeeper Caden Wilt was credited with one.
The Blue Devils, despite being even with Chesapeake in corner kicks at four, outshot the Panthers by a hefty 26-8.
Lester led in shots with a dozen, as Day delivered five.
Wilt wound up with seven saves, as Gallia Academy — on Sept. 1 — defeated the visiting Panthers 6-1.
For the OVC season, the Blue and White outscored its opposition by a whopping 3-1 margin (36-13).
Gallia Academy will now begin postseason tournament play, as the Blue Devils — the third-seeded squad in the Division II sectional tournament — host Waverly for the sectional championship.
The Tigers are the sixth-seeded squad, as the Blue Devils won the sectional title for the first time in school history a year ago.
The match with Waverly is set for Thursday (Oct. 20) at 5 p.m. at Gallia Academy’s Lester Field.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106
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