The Delaware Hayes boys soccer team will have to wait another year for its first OCC title since 2008 after a 5-1 loss to Dublin Jerome Thursday night at Cornell Stadium in Delaware.
“We’ve covered a lot of ground in a short period of time,” said Pacers coach Joshua Diehl, who is in his third season with the program. “We dream big — we care a lot — which means that when things don’t go your way it hurts.”
Blake Wyse had a hat trick, Chris Dowling had a goal and an assist and Ben Sobotka had a pair of assists to lead Jerome.
“Their possession game is really good,” Diehl said. “They have quality all over the field. They can really keep the ball and we tried disrupt that … the times we did, it was really effective.”
The Celtics (10-4, 4-1) got the go-ahead score by Wyse, who rebounded Sobotka’s initial shot that was saved off the goal post just over three minutes into the game.
“The first half, we were definitely in the game — things just didn’t go our way,” Diehl said.
Dowling scored the first of two back-breaking goals in a span of five minutes sandwiched around halftime. His goal came on a touch shot off of Sobotka’s throw-in to give Jerome a 2-0 lead with two minutes left in the half.
The second came on a Wyse header off a Dowling corner kick less than three minutes into the second half.
“That third goal hurt us,” Diehl said. “We didn’t get negative, it seemed like something shifted and changed in us that we started dropping off from there. It’s things we’ll look at — we’re going to stay positive.”
Nikolas Shilo pushed the lead to 4-1 on a goal, assisted by Sobotka, with 27:36 left and Wyse finished off his hat trick off a feed from Taro Kimara with 8:47 to go.
“It wasn’t by a lack of desire or effort or preparation or anything … we just wish we could have done things differently,” Diehl said. “Some of the goals were a little soft on our part. There was the corner kick, there was the throw-in … everybody’s trying, but there’s definitely some room to grow defensively.”
Brody Kannally’s header off a throw-in by Curtis Herzog with 17:49 left gave Delaware its only goal.
The win gives Jerome control in the OCC-Cardinal, with Hilliard Bradley still in the mix after its victory at Dublin Scioto Thursday.
If Jerome wins against Dublin Scioto or Bradley loses to Hilliard Darby in its league finale Oct. 13, Jerome will win the league outright.
Bradley can win the league with a Jerome loss or tie for the league title if Jerome ties.
Noah Meehan stopped five shots in goal for the Pacers (7-5-1, 3-2-1).
Jerome goalkeeper Sam Keener made two saves.
With the league schedule wrapped up, Hayes is back at it Saturday night at 7:15 p.m. at home against Pickerington Central.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.