KINNIKINNICK, Ohio — When it rains, it pours.
In the middle of a rainstorm, the Gallia Academy boys soccer team fell 1-0 to the Athens Bulldogs in the Division II district championship held at Zane Trace High School Thursday evening.
The two teams met once before in the regular season, with the Blue Devils (17-2-1) besting the Bulldogs (12-3-4) by a 3-1 count in Athens.
The Bulldogs controlled much of the offense through the first part of the first half, keeping the Blue Devils out of their box.
However, as the minutes ticked by, the Blue and White started chugging along, finding themselves on the Athens half of the field more often.
With the wet and slick field conditions, both teams had trouble connecting with passes and centers, making shots on goal difficult to come by.
That isn’t to say the game was shotless. Both goalies made some great saves over the course of the game, including Blue Devil senior goalkeeper Bryson Miller making a kicking save on the Bulldogs’ first shot.
However, both teams didn’t find the back of the net, leading to a 0-0 stalemate heading into halftime.
In the opening minutes of the second half, the Blue Devils started trying the deep ball, seeing if they could get a forward fast enough to beat out the Bulldog defenders, but they were unsuccessful.
As the game ticked down to the final five minutes of regulation, it appeared overtime was in both teams’ future, but it wasn’t to be.
With two minutes to go, the Bulldogs got fouled right on the boundry of the Blue Devils’ box, which the game officials ruled was enough to line up a penalty shot.
The Bulldogs’ Owen Buckley scored on the penalty shot, giving Athens the victory on their one shot in the second half.
Blue Devils head coach Cory Camden heaped tons of praise of all of his seniors, saying they will be missed next season.
“Losing such a great group of guys is such a major thing,” he said. “These guys helped keep the atmosphere light when the rest of us were feeling down. This is an amazing group of young men that have come through the program and I’ve been so lucky to get to coach these guys.”
On the other hand, Camden said the group of juniors he has is ready to take the reins next season.
“They’re going to be looking to avenge what all has happened over the last few years,” he said. “We’re battle-tested.”
The Blue Devils had four shots on goal over the course of Thursday’s game, shot by juniors Maddux Camden, Carson Wamsley, Keagan Daniels and Brayden Burris.
The Bulldogs accounted for five shots, led by Austin Jaunarajs with two.
In saves, both Miller and the Bulldogs’ Nathan Kallet had four.
The Bulldogs will advance to the Region 7 semifinals, facing the winner between the Dover Crimson Tornadoes and the Maysville Panthers.
© 2021 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.
Colton Jeffries can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100