Blue Devils and Ironmen play to tie

By Paul Boggs -

CENTENARY, Ohio — Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, they let another two-goal lead get away.

That’s because, for the second consecutive match, the Gallia Academy High School soccer squad saw a two-goal halftime advantage evaporate — as the visiting Jackson Ironmen rallied for a pair of second-half markers to tie the Blue Devils 2-2 on Saturday in a non-league tilt.

And, in both instances, within two days of each other — the contests were held on the home pitch of Gallia Academy’s Lester Field.

The Blue Devils got a pair of first-half goals to lead 2-0, but the Ironmen — a former member with Gallia Academy in the lameduck Southeastern Ohio Athletic League — amounted two tallies in a span of four minutes in the second half.

Neither club could get the go-ahead goal in the final 26 minutes, so the 2-2 draw was the Blue Devils’ first of the season — and first tie since a dramatic 1-1 stalemate at Warren a year ago.

With the draw, Gallia Academy is now 9-5-1, with Warren a week ago its last win.

The Blue Devils, on Thursday night, saw a 3-1 lead with 26 minutes remaining dissolve into a stunning 4-3 loss to visiting South Point in the Ohio Valley Conference.

At least they escaped Saturday’s showdown with the Ironmen with a tie, but their record outside of the OVC — and against their former SEOAL slate — is only 1-4-1.

“It was another very tough game for us, but it was a good test for us,” said GAHS coach Richard Isberner. “We scored two goals in the first half, but on two of our mistakes, Jackson scored two goals to tie it up. Now is when our season starts and we have big weeks ahead of us.”

Justin Day got Gallia Academy’s opening goal with 25 minutes remaining in the first half, then he assisted on Isaiah Lester’s tally with only four minutes left before halftime.

For Lester, who led the Blue Devils in shots on Saturday with eight, it was his 26th goal of his stellar senior season.

However, Jackson scored with 30 and 26 minutes remaining in the match, tying it at 2-2 and holding on from there.

The Ironmen, which defeated the Blue Devils 3-2 at Alumni Stadium in Jackson three weeks ago, outshot Gallia Academy 13-12.

The Red and White won the corner-kick comparison as well, 8-5.

Gallia Academy goalkeeper Caden Wilt made eight saves, as Miguel Velasco added two shots for the Devils.

Day and Pedro Carrascal had one shot apiece.

The Blue Devils return to action on Thursday night at Chesapeake, where a victory can clinch no worse than a share of the OVC championship.

Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106

By Paul Boggs