CENTENARY, Ohio — Maybe this was part of the Chesapeake Panthers’ plan all along.
After arriving exactly 40 minutes late on Thursday night for their scheduled 6 p.m. soccer start against Gallia Academy, the Panthers posted two early goals — and went on to hold off the young Blue Devils 3-1 in an Ohio Valley Conference tilt at Lester Field.
The Panthers’ team bus pulled in to Gallia Academy High School at 6:40 p.m., but by 7:05 p.m., Chesapeake already had a 1-0 advantage on the scoreboard.
Chesapeake then scored again at the first half’s midway mark, before the Blue Devils got a goal with 26 minutes and 50 seconds remaining to make things quite interesting.
However, that one-goal Gallia Academy deficit only lasted for 10 minutes and 25 seconds, as Cole Mills made a penalty-kick goal to push the cushion to 3-1 with only 16:25 to play.
From there, the Blue Devils had just two good shots the rest of the way, but Andrew Toler’s airborne line-drive chances at the 12-minute mark and with one minute left sailed directly into the arms of the Chesapeake goalkeeper.
With the loss, the Blue Devils fell to 1-7-3, and have been outscored in those seven losses by a whopping count of 31-3.
They are now 1-3-2 in the OVC, and are officially eliminated from the conference championship chase after sharing the title with South Point a year ago.
Chesapeake, which blanked the Blue Devils 3-0 in the two teams’ initial meeting on Sept. 12, remains undefeated in the OVC at 4-0-3.
Although the game got delayed by approximately an hour due to the Panthers’ late arrival, it didn’t impact the Purple at all — as it scored a mere minute and 23 seconds into the match.
Brock Holley, on his only shot attempt, found the back of the net off an assist from Ian Picklesimer.
“I think that (delay) affected us at the start. We were here so early and ready for the game, and even though we hadn’t gone through our warmups yet, we took a lot of shots on goal and practiced some free pieces. But stopping and the game being delayed until 7 p.m., I think it did have an effect for the first goal,” said GAHS coach Cory Camden. “After the first goal, I actually thought we settled in and did a pretty good job. We made some changes, especially after halftime, and it didn’t hurt.”
But the Blue Devils still trailed 2-0 at intermission, thanks to Jacob Martin’s unassisted first-half marker with 21:17 to play.
Chesapeake — with a size and experience advantage over Gallia Academy — controlled most of the possession, as the majority of the match was played in the Blue Devils’ defensive half and third.
Finally, the Blue Devils got a cluster in front of the net, and freshman Anthony Borden bagged his first career goal.
Justin Day helped set up the scramble and shot, as Gallia Academy — all of the sudden — made it 2-1.
Unfortunately, that momentum was short-lived, as the Blue Devils — with the play turning from physical to chippy — were whistled for a foul in the goalbox with 16-and-a-half minutes remaining.
Mills made the subsequent penalty kick, rocketing the ball past Pierce Wilcoxon into the lower-right 90.
The Panthers outshot the Blue Devils 16-3, as Mills and Dalton Nida each attempted five with Martin mustering four.
Thirteen of those shots were on goal, as the keeper Wilcoxon wound up with 10 saves.
Chesapeake also held a 6-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Gallia Academy returned home on Saturday against non-league Grace Christian, and returns to OVC action on Monday at Rock Hill.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106