Buckeye Valley boys soccer coach Eric Staley knows his squad is inexperienced.
But, he was happy with the growth the Barons showed in a 3-0 loss to Hamilton Township Saturday afternoon in BV’s home opener.
Hamilton Township, a district finalist last season, has a roster that includes 15 seniors. So, Staley understood that his young squad faced a tall order.
“We knew we had a tough battle,” Staley said. “Really, despite what I saw on the scoreboard, (there’s) a lot of things to be encouraged about.”
Fifteen of the Barons’ (1-2) 25 players this season are freshmen or sophomores and the two goalies, Cole Davis (junior) and Jack Scheeler (sophomore) have never played organized soccer before.
“Jack was a football player and he played receiver, so we figured he could catch the ball,” Staley said. “Cole was in cross country and also had a basketball background.”
Staley has some help in the form of volunteer assistant Andrew Chwalik, who has worked with the goalies.
Chwalik spent much of the contest shouting a mixture of direction and encouragement.
He doubled over when Scheeler left the goal on a clearing attempt and breathed a sigh of relief when Scheeler was successful.
Davis had two saves for the Barons in the first half and Scheeler had six in relief.
“Our keepers just came in,” Chwalik said. “They’re young; this is the first time they’re playing … I’m ecstatic.”
The Barons defense stood tall in the early going as Hamilton Township applied pressure, but couldn’t get a clean look.
“The defense has come together here in the last couple of games,” Staley said. “We only had to replace one to graduation (this season). They’ve really done a great job.”
Then, the Rangers found the back of the net twice in the span of about three minutes late in the half.
Nelson Pineda’s centering pass from the left side was deflected, but found the foot of Nathan Khanthachack with 11:26 left in the first half.
Andy Wilson sent a shot that went through the hands of the goalie off an Elijah Taylor assist with 8:25 left to give the Rangers (2-0-1) a 2-0 lead, which was the margin at the break.
Joe Watson’s goal with 26:34 left capped the scoring. He was assisted by Dalton Willis.
Jalen Woodson had a pair of saves in goal for Hamilton Township.
Next, Buckeye Valley opens MOAC play at home against River Valley Monday at 5 p.m.