GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — “By far, this is the best game that we’ve played all year.”
Those were the sentiments from soccer coach Jeff Patrick following Tuesday night’s 3-3 draw with visiting Ironton Saint Joseph in the Ohio Valley Christian home opener in Gallia County.
The host Defenders (0-1-2) stormed out to a pair of two-goal leads in the first half, but the Flyers (1-1-1) answered with the final two goals of regulation — which ultimately led to the tie.
OVCS outshot the guests by a slim 16-14 overall margin, which included a 15-13 edge in shots on goal. ISJHS did muster a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks during the draw. Ohio Valley Christian never trailed in the contest.
“The kids worked really hard tonight, especially in this heat with only 12 players,” Patrick said of his troops. “Give a lot of credit to Saint Joe too. They kept coming and didn’t stop once they got behind.
“Overall, I’m pleased with the effort. We keep seeing improvement in every game, and that’s what I’m looking for out of this group.”
Justin Beaver scored on a penalty kick in the seventh minute to give the hosts an early 1-0 edge, then Justin Sizemore netted a pass from Rachel Sargent in the 12th minute for a 2-0 advantage.
Ironton St. Joe broke into the scoring column in the 13th minute after Isaac Whaley netted a pass from Clay Willis, allowing the guests to trim their deficit down to 2-1.
Sizemore, however, answered a minute later by netting a pass from Beaver for a 3-1 edge with 66 minutes left in regulation. OVCS did not score the rest of the way.
Zac McGraw trimmed the lead down to one with an unassisted goal in the 32nd minute, which made it a 3-2 contest headed into the intermission.
Peyton Adkins tied the game at three during the 59th minute on an unassisted goal from point blank range.
Marshall Hood stopped 10 shots in net for the Defenders, while Joey Bush came up with 12 saves fro the Flyers.
Ohio Valley Christian returns to action Friday when it travels to Calvary Baptist Academy for a 5 p.m. match.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.