CENTENARY, Ohio — The postseason couldn’t have started much better for the Blue Devils.
The Gallia Academy soccer team secured its 12th win of the year — a program record — and claimed its spot in Thursday’s Division II sectional semifinal, with the seventh-seeded Blue Devils topping 10th-seeded Portsmouth West by a 9-1 count on Monday at Lester Field.
Gallia Academy (12-4-1) — champions of the Ohio Valley Conference — broke the scoreless tie just 3:35 into play, with freshman Keagen Daniels scoring an unassisted goal.
The Blue Devil lead was 2-0 with 32:16 left in the first half, as Colton Roe scored on an assist from Timothy Hill.
A penalty kick by Brody Wilt gave GAHS a 3-0 lead with 29:42 to play, and then the Blue Devils sophomore scored an unassisted goal with 19:51 to play.
Emmanuel Valadez got in on the action, scoring with 10:53 left in the half, and then Daniels found the net for a second time 8:30 later, making the GAHS lead 6-0 at the break.
Gallia Academy led 7-0 less than three minutes into the second half, as Maddux Camden scored an unassisted goal. Wilt’s hat trick goal came with 35:29 to play, with Daniels earning the assist.
Evan Stapleton finished the scoring surge for the hosts, finding the back of the net with 29:26 to play.
West (2-15) junior Ethan Marasek ended the shut out with 10:16 to play, scoring an unassisted goal.
Following the 9-1 victory, GAHS head coach Cory Camden talked about the Senators’ momentum headed into play, as well as how his team executed the game plan.
“They come in off of a couple wins in their last three games, so I wasn’t sure how that was going to work out, teams can get hot at the right time,” Camden said. “I feel like we’re pretty hot right now. We had a good game plan to press and get the ball to the back line, and it worked out real well. We utilized the full length of the field, touchline-to-touchline.”
Coach Camden also commended his players for meeting their preseason goals.
“I can’t say enough about them,” Camden said. “That just set the school record in wins for a season, I’m super proud of them. We set accomplishments at the beginning of the season, one was to win the league, one was to go undefeated in the league, one was to host the sectional — which we did in a roundabout way, we were looking at a higher seed — and the fourth one was to win a sectional game. We’ve hit all-4 of those goals, now we’re peaking a the right time, hopefully we can get a little deeper.”
Bryson Miller spent the majority of the time in goal for GAHS, stopping seven shots. The Blue and White fired 17 shots at goal in the triumph. Jared Opperman claimed eight saves in goal for the Senators.
Next, GAHS will have visit second-seeded Alexander in the sectional semifinal on Thursday in Albany. The Spartans won their regular season meeting with the Blue Devils by a 2-0 count on Aug. 17.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.