DELAWARE – Will Harrington was fouled in the box and converted the ensuing penalty kick to send the host Olentangy Berlin boys soccer team to a 2-0 win over Olentangy in non-league action Tuesday night.
Harrington’s goal came a little more than 62 minutes into a game where scoring chances were at a premium.
“I saw an Olentangy team that was just tough to break down,” Berlin coach Joshua Diehl said. “I thought the guys did a good job in the second half of figuring out ways to get behind them. Will did his job to earn the foul to get the PK and then had the composure to convert it.”
Dom Antronica took a drop pass from Mike Lapid and sent it top shelf to account for the final margin to cap the first meeting of what will be a league rivalry starting next year.
The Bears (9-1-3) move their undefeated streak to nine games.
“Last year, we learned a lot and we grew,” said Diehl, whose team went 7-9-4 in its inaugural season. “We had a lot of close games that did not go our way. But credit to our guys – they’ve had a real strong mentality to try to get better every day.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game against a good Olentangy team and I thought they showed persistence that we didn’t have in year one.”
Connor Sexton anchored the Bears’ defense with one save in goal.
“They’re a really good team,” Olentangy coach Kyle Hamrick said. “Josh is one of the best coaches in Central Ohio and – without a doubt – his team played like it tonight. The organization that they had is a big reason they won this game tonight.”
Grant Robinson had three saves in goal for Olentangy (5-6-3), which suffered its first loss since Sept. 5, going 3-0-3 during that span.
“Our guys were hungry to win and – for 60 minutes – we played hard,” Hamrick said. “We had opportunities to score as well. But when it comes to it – some things just didn’t go our way tonight.”
Hamrick was an assistant for Diehl at Delaware Hayes and the two remain close friends.
“This is a difficult (time) for me because we’ve got Kyle – who’s a dear friend and invested a lot at Delaware — and then next week we actually have Delaware and (coach) Robb (Morgan) … again, guys that we think real highly of,” Diehl said.
Diehl will make his return to Delaware in the regular-season finale Oct. 10 to close out league play.
Both teams return to league play Thursday night. Berlin hosts third-ranked Worthington Kilbourne in OCC-Cardinal play and Olentangy travels to rival Olentangy Orange in OCC-Buckeye play. Both contests are scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.