THE PLAINS, Ohio — Once again, the now non-conference was unkind to Gallia Academy.
That’s because the Blue Devils, former members of the lameduck Southeastern Ohio Athletic League, lost another match against their former soccer affiliation on Tuesday night.
This time, the Blue Devils didn’t hold on to a 2-0 first-half lead, as the host Athens Bulldogs scored six goals over the final 50 minutes — en route to doubling up the Devils 6-3 at Rutter Field in The Plains.
Athens erased that 2-0 deficit with three goals in the final 10 minutes of the opening half, then broke a 3-3 tie with three more second-half goals — all in a span of seven minutes.
The loss leaves Gallia Academy at 7-4-0, with all four losses coming against SEOAL squads, including a now sweep against Athens.
Gallia Academy also lost its opener at Alexander, along with a 3-2 decision at Jackson 10 days ago.
The Blue Devils are in their first season of soccer in the Ohio Valley Conference, and are the leaders in that league at 5-0-0.
Gallia Academy’s other two wins are a season sweep of Ohio Valley Christian School.
Against Athens, senior striker Isaiah Lester landed his 21st and 22nd goals of the season — easily the team-high.
His second goal on Tuesday, a penalty kick with 32 minutes remaining, tied the contest at 3-3 — after Athens had gained a 3-2 lead late in the opening half.
But the Blue Devils allowed three goals in a matter of seven minutes, as Athens scored with 26, 24 and 19 minutes remaining to pull away for the 6-3 final.
The Bulldogs are also now 7-4-0, as Tate Held had a hat trick, including the final marker.
“We were up 2-0, and then in the last 10 minutes of the first half, we literally shut down and let Athens come back and score three goals,” said GAHS coach Richard Isberner. “We managed to tie it at 3-3, but on our mistake again, Athens scored which shut us down for the rest of the game.”
That goal was with 26 minutes left, when the Bulldogs’ center-back took advantage of the Blue Devils’ slow retreat after an infraction.
A free kick was lofted over the Blue Devil defenders’ heads, where Eric Holzschu made a run down the middle of the pitch.
Holzschu had a one-touch to drive at the goal, beating Gallia Academy goalkeeper Caden Wilt with the shot to make it 4-3.
The Bulldogs doubled up the Blue and White in shots (18-9), and blanked Gallia Academy in corner kicks (10-0).
Lester and Jacob Ratliff registered four shots apiece for the Blue Devils, as Ratliff recorded Gallia Academy’s opening goal — with 10:55 to play in the first half.
After Lester drew a foul at the edge of the goalbox, Ratliff landed a set direct kick for a 1-0 lead.
Only a minute later, after a long Madi Oiler outlet pass to a racing Lester, Lester outran the Bulldog defense — and headed the orb into the net with Athens keeper Rider Stock rushing out.
But the Bulldogs blitzed the Blue Devils for their first of two three-goals in-a-seven-minute-stretch.
Taylor Scott with the opening goal, and Held with his first two tallies, pushed the Green and Gold in front at the two-minute mark.
Wilt was credited with seven saves.
The Blue Devils return to the road, and return to OVC action, tonight (Thursday, Sept. 29) at Fairland.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106